Changing for the sake of change

As a normal result of getting older, almost any comment about change in society sends me spinning off into the land of nostalgia. For example, a friend made the comment that the blogosphere will bring about the demise of the print media. If you don’t know anything about the blogosphere or blogging, you need only to understand that it involves using computers to communicate over the internet. My friend believes that this high-tech approach will spell the end of newspapers and magazines, and maybe even books.
When I heard that prediction, a nostalgia attack dragged me back to 1953. As an electronics technician, I worked with the latest technological craze, television. Often when we installed a new set I would help the customer move the piano to make way for the latest craze. Pianos as the centre of family entertainment quickly lost their position of prestige; used pianos became a glut on the market. Piano factories closed. I knew the piano era had tinkled to a close.
Wrong. In the next decade or two pianos imported from overseas began to appear in Canadian homes and piano teachers became busy again. I remember something else I knew for absolute certain. I knew movie houses would close as television kept people at home.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s as television wiped out all competition, I lamented the disappearance of thousands of big console radios from living rooms. They followed the pianos to used furniture stores and sold for peanuts. Again, I just knew that an advanced technology had finished radio as an effective medium. By the 1960s, all those great radio shows like Amos and Andy, Suspense, and Lux Presents Hollywood had vanished, proving radio had faded out and died of neglect and old age.
Wrong again. Radios lived on. They began appearing in every car; little radios materialized in bedrooms and kitchens, and even in picnic baskets. Talk shows and rock music crackled from millions of four inch speakers across North America, throughout Europe, up and down Africa, and around the world.
Hang on! My nostalgia attack has thrown me head first into 1986. Back then the telephone and cable companies had begun construction of great networks that eventually interconnected every computer, television set, and telephone. I remember the office manager calling a meeting and speaking this line: "You will all be issued a PC connected to a local area network so you can access applications software and store files on a central file server and communicate with all other employees across the country by email. The big advantage is that we will become a paperless office." 
I better give you the background. At that time, I worked for a large communications technology company helping engineers in the corporate engineering office communicate more efficiently. I’d sit all day at a computer, researching, writing, editing, formatting, and printing. I assumed our office manager had it right. We had moved into the computer generation and stood on the verge of welcoming the age of the paperless office. 
And again, wrong! We soon realized that computers made writing and editing much easier, so more people wrote and published more reports. I had no trouble revising a one-volume company publication, turning it into a four-volume set. Unfortunately, that increased the costs for printing and paper by four times. By the 1990s, the paperless office lay whimpering under tons of reports, books, and paper.
I don’t believe this latest prediction of the demise of print media will come true. But what do I know? I got it wrong every other time.

Ray Wiseman