Saturday, June 04, 2005

What do a scooter, a rotary phone and a piece of paper have in common?

Originally uploaded by lowereastside.
If you are like me, something occasionally strikes you as a note worthy happening and you think about it here and there for an afternoon and it’s soon gone. Then you see it again (stage 2) and think maybe it’s a hot new trend and again it fades. The third time (stage 3) is usually when you realize it’s too late. That third time is usually in the pages of some trendy magazine (or blog now I guess) and you think “I sooo saw that coming.” Stage four is the act of slowly dissolving the nugget of self-confidence that had been gathering around the first sighting… the annoying grain of sand that you had been building on. Finally “I sooo saw that coming” becomes “what do I know from trends? Lets face it I’m no Cayce Pollard.”

Lately I have got a grain of sand that has been steadily growing and has not yet begun its disintegration. It is a trend that I am sure will soon have articles popping up about it to steal my pride.

I think the original “grain of sand” was the Razor scooter. Modern metals, urethanes and stickers disguising a chronological leap backward. A place to stand a couple of wheels and a handle bar. Sure it was shinier and capable of folding but it was still a scooter. A horse in Formula1 clothing. Next came the high tech equivalent of Hopscotch meets dancing. Dance Dance Revolution. Plug a “dance mat controller” into your X-Box then… and here’s the tough part… Get UP off the couch and play for DDR. Who knew gamers wanted to jump around, jump around?

The Trend I have been giving examples of was “insert name here.” Reverse Technology? Backwards Breakthroughs? Or maybe Ludite-tech? I’m sure the first article will nab the definitive moniker, but more evidence still exists. I bought a Pokia phone. A gift for my Ludite meets Jedi friend Tom and he flipped for it. What is it? Its an old school handset, in this case like that attaced to a pay-phone, which plugs into your cell phone to be used as a headset. We pondered the possibility of a cellular rotary that we could walk around with and chat “ordering room-service while pacing back and forth in your hotel room” style. You know the style… you give the back of your pea green, table top rotary phone two thirds of The Shocker and let it dangle at your side like a Hellboy fist. Our musings immediately materialized in the form of this 400 dollar lunge into the past. The Pokia element of the trend has gone full bore and is officially in full-scale commercial production.

But seriously, everyone knows cell phones are strictly hi-tech. Kids don’t even talk on them, they text, SMS and IM. Is it a stretch to say they morphed the Captain Kirk communicators we waited so long for into hand held telex machines. I think it is. So let me make it more tangible with this observation. SMS (text messaging) has gone Morse code. Left arrow equals DOT, right arrow equals DASH and your phone does the once laborious now instant decoding for you. Thanks to Morse Code cellular phone software kids are blowing away their old “words per minute” records using a system we all only dream about knowing 2 letters of so that we can some day alert our potential rescuers to our presence by knocking out S-O-S on a pipe.

These are all just toys. Scooters, video games, big, old phones plugged into tiny, new ones and SMS Morse Code software to cope with the diminished button real estate on those shrinking cellys. Where’s the kicker? The exclamation point. (Should a writer include his own editing thoughts within his editorial? Please advise.) Well, Here it is. E-PAPER. An Inverted Innovation that I have been anxiously awaiting. Hard to believe it, but staring at light emitting pixels drives me nuts. The idea of a glowing novel sickens me. Enter e-paper. Imagine billions of dollars and millions of minds hard at work to bring you a thin, flexible, non-reflective surface that can convey information like, say, I don’t know, a page in a book. E-Paper is the ultimate chronological step backwards save only perhaps one… WPIX TV’s Yule Log.


Anonymous said...

More retro tech:
mp3's of 78's
(courtesy of English Alex)
-Rev. Timmy

Dave Himself said...

Tim's Link is faboo so here it is in an easy to click format for all of you lazy bones out there.