BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Giving up my iPod for a Walkman.
Okay, I’ll admit it. People who don’t take the time to keep up with new technology annoy me. Your life could be so much simpler/easier/more fun, and yet you continue to use a bulky day planner and a Razr that can’t even browse the internet.
It’s one thing if you can’t afford new gadgets (hell, even I’m too broke to upgrade my iPhone to the latest model), but if you’re reading this blog on IE6 and it’s in your power to upgrade to IE7 (or, better yet, Firefox), not doing so isn’t just stupid, it’s selfish.
It seems like every day, development on the site I work at is affected by browser issues, monitor sizing issues, etc. Why? Because the tech industry may be moving forward at breakneck speeds, but most people seem to have put the brakes on their personal technology in 2002.
Now, anti-Luddite diatribes aside, there is something kind of cool about ‘vintage’ technology. Note, I said ‘vintage,’ not ‘outdated.’ What’s the difference you ask? Vintage technology is the stuff you keep around for the hipster cred (your old turntable from the 70s, your Atari from the 80’s, the boom box you toted around on your shoulder pads in the 90’s). Outdated technology is the stuff you actually use, even though you should have thrown it out with those shoulder pads many moons ago.
And, when it comes to vintage technology, nothing quite has the cred (at least for my generation) of the walkman. That bulky box of cassette playing convenience, with its large buttons and its magical battery-sucking powers. It was the precursor to the Discman, which was the precursor to the iPod (of course), and it was the first piece of technology that most members of my generation ever owned.
Go through the drawers in my childhood room, and you;ll probably even find a few stray tapes – Sublime’s self-titled album (which I snuck into the house and then had to replace after my mom found and destroyed it), The Offspring’s “Americana” (same story there), a large collection of parentally-approved Beatles tapes (which were actually the only parentally-approved tapes I owned), etc. You get the point.
When I was a kid, the walkman was more than just a portable music player. It was a symbol. A badge. A physical manifestation of those first feelings of teenage rebellion beginning to bubble under the surface of my pre-teen pituitaries. With its large, green headphone jack and its rough, round volume button, my walkman was my first refuge from the chaos and the cacophony of a crowded house.
That’s why I found this article so interesting. In it, a modern-day kid reacts to having his beloved iPod replaced with a big, old fashioned walkman. The results? The kids on the bus laugh at him, the teachers at school get all nostalgic at the sight of the device and he goes days before he figures out that there’s two sides to the tape he’s listening to. It’s a fascinating read — particularly the part about his solution to the problem of the walkman not having a shuffle feature — and it did do its part in reminding me of how fast technology moves. What was once the center of my gadget universe is now an antiquated piece of machinery that doesn’t even make sense to a modern-day kid.
Ultimately, I have to admit that the article did give me just a shred more empathy for those people with the old monitors and the slow DSL connections. Maybe machines are just moving too fast for them, and maybe it’s alright that us web folks sometimes have to slow things down to accomodate thir needs. Just because they’re outdated, doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be totally out of the loop. Unless of course they’re using IE5, in which case they can go find something else to play with. I hear butter churners are quite fun.