6

Newspapers and Time

Hattip to Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.  Any work of entertainment becomes a cultural artifact that historians may use to analyze a point in history:

How quickly new technology can radically alter societies.  In three decades newspapers have gone from being an essential part of daily life, to being an industry on life support, kept alive by the inertia of a rapidly aging readership.  My father would pore over our local daily paper each day, and usually work the crossword puzzle and the cryptogram contained in each paper.  After I grew up I subscribed to The Chicago Tribune.  After the Trib endorsed Obama in 2008 I cancelled my subscription.  However, I realized at the time that I hadn’t been reading much of it in years, the paper usually arriving after I went to the law mines.  Almost all of my daily reading of the news was being done over the internet.  When my partner retired from the law mines in 2010, I immediately cancelled the firm’s subscription to the local regional paper that the firm subscribed to, and which I hadn’t been reading in several years.  I still get the local town paper, which is a weekly freebie, and where I place my legal notices, but it is usually my secretaries who bring any local story of note to my attention.  In some ways it is sad seeing an enterprise with such a long pedigree being one with Nineveh and Tyre, and in some ways I think most of the ink-stained wretches richly deserve their fate, but like it or not, we can do many things with time in this Vale of Tears, but we cannot freeze it.

2

Remote Control

 

 

From 1961, a commercial for the RCA “Wireless Wizard”.  Not the first wireless remote, that title goes to the Zenith Flash-matic in 1955.  Remote controls are an interesting example of fairly rapid transition of technology from experimental into mass production.  The above commercial seems rather over the top to modern sensibilities, but the development of a mass market for electronics gave a strong peace time impetus to technological development.  My father initially denounced remote controls as toys for lazy rich people.  When we got one after prices came down and the technology was perfected, it was practically impossible to pry it from his hands!  Various revolutions during my lifetime have seized public attention, but the continuous technological revolutions of the last six decades probably will prove the most long lasting.

6

Of Encyclopedia Britannica and Buggywhips

I do all of my research online, and increasingly most of my reading.  However, I am one of the children of the expiring age of the book, and therefore it is with sadness that I note this story:

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print.

Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued, company executives said.

In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project. Continue Reading