In the online world – software development, hardware, mobile, Web and Internet and writing about the preceding – there is a terrible trend to announce the utter replacement of something old by a new technology. Are these pronouncements a result of lack of perspective, or of judgment, a desire to be a part of something important or a desire to be seen as prescient? I’m not sure, but this indulgence of proclamations has never ceased.
The latest is in a post on TechCrunch. In it, the author attempts to be seen as aware of this facet of tech teleology, but can’t stop herself from indulging in it anyway.
“Less obsolete but more annoying than a handwritten letter, the phone call is fading as a mode of communication even if the nostalgic will be singing its praises for awhile.”
There has been no major technology that has disappeared in my lifetime. There has been no prognosis of technological replacement that has come to pass. What has happened – what always happens – is that a technology arrives and takes away somewhere between some and most users of a certain technology. That former technology shrinks, reorients, is not that same as it was before. But it doesn’t disappear.
The Bible thumpers of tech are no more right than the old crybabies who call each and every new technology a “passing fad.”
Here is a short list of technology that has not replaced other technology.
- Telephony | letters
- Email | letters
- E-commerce sites | brick-and-mortar stores
- E-documents | paper
- E-readers | books
- Online meetings | face-to-face meetings
- Apps | the web, and of course . . .
- Texting | phone calls
Very rarely, if ever, does a technology come along and utterly replace that which has come before. So-called “legacy technology” is just “technology.” And very rarely, if ever, do technology journalists allow the reality of that to utterly replace another stab at cheap pageviews.
So, look forward to tomorrow where someone will announce that Foursquare will utterly replace . . . who know? Egg-beaters maybe.
Eggbeater photo by Robert Müller