Around Town

9 disappearing things

The land line phone

Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore.  Most people keep it simply because they have always had it.  But you could well be paying double charges for that extra service.  All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.  Another disappearing device, linked to the land line telephone, is the fax machine which started to be overtaken by new technologies almost as soon as it appeared commercially back in the 1980s.


The bookshop

You can now browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you decide to proceed.  Although many people still say they want to hold an actual book in their hands, once you start flicking your fingers on the screen you soon forget you are holding a gadget rather than an actual book.  Much the same thing was said about downloading music from I Tunes.  But once people found out you can get the latest albums for a fraction of the cost, customer reluctance soon crumbled.

The DVD shop

Just as DVDs replaced the old videograms, so they are in turn being replaced by the home computer and self-downloading of favourite movies.  The attempt to enhance the DVD market by Blue Ray has not been too successful either, partly because of the high cost but also because obtaining high resolution on-screen is no longer the issue it once was.   The advent of Netflix is another technological option which is now expanding rapidly and worldwide.  Another retail outlet on the slide is the traditional photo printing businesses.  After all, how many cameras using Polaroid or film do you see around these days?

The cheque       

Britain has already laid the ground work to do away with cheques altogether next year.  It costs the financial system billions of dollars every year to process them.  Plastic cards and online transactions will eventually lead to the demise of the cheque.  This in turn has negative repercussions for the post office.  If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.   Also bad news for post offices are emails, Fed Ex, etc, which have just about wiped out the minimum revenues worldwide to keep the post office alive.  Most of your mail these days is likely to be junk mail and bills.

Things that you own

Many things we take for granted may not be ours in the future.  Currently you store your pictures, music, documents, etc, on your hard drive.  But the arrival of cloud services means that when you turn on a computer, the internet will be built into the operating system.  So Windows, Microsoft, Google, etc, will be tied straight to the internet.  If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud.  In this virtual world you will be able to access your music or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device.  But will you actually own any of this stuff or will it be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof”?

Your privacy

Going, going, gone!  There are cameras on the street and in many buildings.  They are even built into your computer and cell phone.  But you can be sure that 24/7 “they” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates and the Google street view.  If you buy anything, your habit is put into a zillion profiles and the ads will change to reflect those habits as “they” try to persuade you to purchase something else.  The only thing that can’t be changed will be your memories.  Devices that do protect your identity, such as VPNs (virtual private networks) could well be outlawed in future as they already are in Russia and China.


The music industry is dying a slow death.  Not just because of illegal downloading, it’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it.  Greed and competition are the problem.  The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing.  Over 40 percent of music purchased today is “catalogue items”, meaning traditional music (older established artists) that the public is already familiar with.  This is also true of the live concert circuit. Steve Knopper has written a great book on this, “Appetite for Self-Destruction”.


Keys, at least in the conventional sense of brass-cut pieces, will be gone forever.  There are already keyless entries to cars, offices, hotel rooms, etc, which use chip-based technology to get in and out.  There are already on the market several apps allowing us to enter our homes without a clanking bunch.  You will be able to enter your house by using a smartphone.  If your battery drains out, don’t worry as your fingerprint and face-recognition technology will allow you to borrow somebody else’s phone!

The clutch

The automatic transmission system is already taking over the car and truck industries at a fast pace.  The bigwigs, such as BMW, are shifting to computerized, fully automatic transmission and other companies are bound to follow.  Acceleration is better with precise electronic shifts and fuel efficiency has never been better.  Love it or hate it, the clutch is on the way out. 

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