This week I received a rather disturbing email containing a list of things that are on the point of extinction. The list contained – newspapers, post offices, music, books, cheques, land-line phones, television, privacy and ‘things’ you own.
I will attach the list to this blog but personally I found the most disturbing items were books and music and I have to wonder if the world will be a better place because of it. You can be the judge of that.
The demise of books has been on the cards for a while. This year one of Australia’s biggest booksellers, Angus and Robertson, went into liquidation. Borders also closed. The reasons were varied – the poor retail sales market right across the board, internet book sales, children preferring video games to reading, holding an immense range of stock, and the rise of the Ipad.
Those who enjoy reading can no doubt think of nothing better than curling up in bed with a good book. Curling up in bed with a warm Ipad or laptop does not have the same comfy feeling, does it? I also wonder how a new author would become known. There would be no more J.K. Rowlings as no one would be able to find them amongst the millions of anonymous books on the internet. There would be no publisher to sift through manuscripts for you. You’d get the good, the bad and downright awful books all on one level playing field. At some point the authors you know and trust will die and then who will you turn to?
As for music, I’ve noticed that over the last ten years something has happened to music. In my opinion it started with Napster.
These days the Beatles wouldn’t stand a chance of being discovered. I’m having difficulty to recalling any memorable music created recently. One medium where musicians could promote their latest video clips was on MTV. Nowadays MTV just shows a host of awful reality shows for teenagers.
Music was always a hard business to make a living in. The music industry was very greedy indeed and from what I recall, quite a few well known musicians went on strike rather than make music for nothing based on contracts they signed when they were unknown. I think George Michaels was one of them.
These days the only way to be discovered musically is via television reality shows such as X Factor and the Idol shows.
I noticed in the news today that it is the view of international shopping centre guru Bruce Shaw that shopping centres will also soon be extinct. At the very least they will have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay alive. See http://www.news.com.au/business/paradise-for-shopaholics-inside-the-mall-of-the-future/story-e6frfm1i-1226077205619
Anyway, for your edification, have a look at the list that I received in my email –
1. The Post Office
Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply
in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long
term. Email have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep
the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.
2. The Cheque
Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018.
It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process
cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual
demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of 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.
3. The Newspaper
The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly
don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of
the milkman. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The
rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper
and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple,
Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid
4. The Book
You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your
hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading
music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind
when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever
leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with
books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter
before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And
think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the
screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t
wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget
instead of a book.
5. The Land Line Telephone
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’ve always had it.
But you are 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
This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. 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 corruption is the problem. The record
labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40%
of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional
music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is
also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and
disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for
Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the
Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the
economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.
And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the
time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated
down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are
skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I
say good riddance to most of it. It’s time for the cable companies to be
put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch
8. The “Things” That You Own
Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives,
but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in
“the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your
pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD,
and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud
services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will
be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS
will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will
open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be
saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the
cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your
books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the
good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all
be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the
things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run
to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf,
or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.
If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it
would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway.
There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and 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 something, your habit is put into a
zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. “They”
will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.