I remember when I got my first pager. Pagers were for special people who must always be available in an emergency, and so I felt important. The feeling was short-lived. I soon realized that it could go off at any moment, compelling me to drop whatever I was doing and head for the nearest phone (smartphones had not yet obsoleted pagers). I also learned that it is critical to dress appropriately when wearing a pager, lest one be mistaken for a drug dealer.
Our culture’s intoxicating brew of cutting-edge technologies has always put forth shiny objects which feed our egos and, in some cases, speed our workflow. The not-so-hidden agenda of their creators is to make them obsolete before the revenue stream wanes. The familiar adage “technology eats its young” is not without merit.
According to the definition, an obsolete thing is outdated and therefore no longer produced or used. As a verb, the word has become a rallying cry for business leaders – our mission is to obsolete the other guy’s stuff and take his share. Cassette tapes, pagers, rotary phones, typewriters, phonographs, floppy disks – all these and many more could still perform their intended function, but products that seem good enough are never good enough for long.