Technology is advancing at a more rapid pace than ever. With it changes culture, personal networks, habits, jobs and the core of what humans expect from the world around them. In much the same way I can’t conceive of an office full of bright minds whose only job is to use a slide rule to calculate functions, I hope that some of the below truths become as antiquated as the profession of ice cutter.
It’s a short list, I’m sure there’s a lot I should add. Tweet suggestions at @itsjoeco
Things I know will sound like a mix of gibberish and malarkey to my children, based on how technology and culture have evolved since I was a child (1985-2003) and their childhoods (2011 onwards):
- Taxis used to drive around aimlessly hoping to find riders who, just as aimlessly, were hoping to find taxis.
- People bought maps, often at their local gas station or book store, before they moved to a new state or went on a trip.
- Knowing the numbers printed on a credit card was enough to spend money on that credit card. Regardless, we would often read these numbers over the phone or write them on a piece of paper.
- Television was not on demand. There were a dozen channels when I grew up and the TV schedule was adhered to more strictly than anything. Side Effect: Interrupting a news program was a really big deal.
- When people grew up, they had no idea what the majority of their high school friends did after college.
- Unless you lived in New York City or San Francisco, you owned your own car. An average new car cost 75% of a median salary. When you weren’t using it, it just sat idle in your driveway.
- Television was not on demand, but proceeded linearly. It was interrupted every 3-5 minutes for commercials, which were videos completely unrelated to the regular programming. Consumers purchased, PURCHASED, paper versions of television guides so we would know when television shows were on when.
- People thought bitcoin was just for buying drugs or running scams
- If I missed the an episode of a show I was watching, there was often no way to watch it before the next episode. There are still episodes of 24 that I’ve never seen, but my brain has filled in the narrative the best it could.
- Side Effect: Writers had to write loosely enough that if people didn’t watch the show religiously, they wouldn’t be lost if they missed an episode. Arrested Development was one of the best written shows, but it failed because it was aired in the wrong medium, the week-to-week, linear broadcast.
- If you got stuck on a level in a video game and didn’t have a strategy guide or a friend who could beat it, you were screwed. The guy at Blockbuster to recommend someone you could talk to who was good at the game. Oh, Blockbuster was a store that rented movies and video games to you. No, we couldn’t download them. Because there was no internet, that’s why!
Things I hope will sound absurd to my children due to major improvements in these areas in the next 10 years, when they’re in their teens and capable of understanding this stuff. (Hint: some good startup ideas here)
- I took a class in high school on how to drive, took a written test, and then took a driving test with an employee of the State of New Jersey. Then, the state let 17 year-olds, with their horrible decision-making, drive cars. Cars didn’t drive themselves!
- We glued metal nodes to our teeth and connected them with wire, leaving that wire in place for years, in order to straighten them.
- Human adults slept every single night and got very little positive out of it, it was done to avoid a negative effect of losing your mind and being unable to function.
- College-bound students would, knowing full well that they would be in debt for a decade or longer, take out loans to study a field the bulk of whose materials were accessible to anyone with an internet connection or library card.
- Banks thought they could use the blockchain without bitcoin.