Thursday, May 19, 2016

10 commonplace things that are disappearing

A year ago, I wrote about “10 things doomed to go the way of the dinosaur.”
That list included pennies, business cards, phone books, newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, among other things.
As I said at the time, some of these things will be stubbornly persistent but the future is clear. It may take many years, but they are destined to fade away. Seriously, why does the U.S. still have pennies and phone books?
Comedian John Oliver joined the movement to eliminate the penny in a funny segment on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” in November.
What follows is a list of 10 commonplace things that are disappearing.

1. Music CDs

Rapper Kanye West recently announced that he no longer plans to put out music on CDs.
Music sales on physical media, including CDs, have been on a long decline. First, digital downloads (Apple iTunes) took a bite out of physical media sales. Now streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) are causing declines in both physical media and digital downloads.
You need look no further than the shrinking CD section at Best Buy stores to see what’s happening to music sales.

2. Autographs

Years ago when people met a celebrity, they’d want to get his or her autograph. Today, selfies are the memento of choice.
Singer Taylor Swift noted in 2014 that autographs became “obsolete” after Apple came out with the first iPhone with a front-facing camera. That was the iPhone 4, released in June 2010.

3. Journalism schools

The declining newspaper industry and resulting job losses have spurred many universities to morph their journalism schools into media and marketing schools. Some universities (such as Emory and the University of Colorado) have dropped their journalism programs.

4. Alarm clocks

In the smartphone age, who needs an alarm clock anymore? It’s certainly a heck of a lot easier to set an alarm on a smartphone than a clock radio.
Smartphones also have replaced separate cameras, GPS navigation devices and other gadgets.

5. Cursive handwriting

Kids aren’t taught cursive handwriting in school anymore. So they have a tough time reading cards and letters sent by their grandparents. Typing is much more important. About the only thing they’ll write in cursive is their signature.

6. Postcards

Postcards are fading away along with letters sent via the U.S. Postal Service. Why send a postcard on vacation when you can instantly send a photo via text or post it on social media?
Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service continues to decline in relevance. (See “The Postal Service Is Delivering Itself Into Bankruptcy, Audit Shows.”)

7. Payphones

The rise of cellphones has done away with the need for payphones and phone booths. New York City is replacing phone booths with free Wi-Fi stations and information kiosks.

8. Appointment books

I’m stubbornly holding on to my weekly at-a-glance schedule book. But a lot of people have switched to online schedules using Microsoft Outlook and other programs. I just like using paper schedule books for writing work and personal notes and appointments. But the tide has clearly turned in favor of electronic calendars.

9. TV Guide magazine

How is TV Guide magazine still around? TV Guide was created at a time when television shows were scheduled. In the on-demand video streaming world, you don’t need a grid schedule of what’s on. Also, with program information available online, a weekly printed magazine seems archaic.

10. Keys

Many cars already have replaced keys with keyless ignition systems. These wireless push-to-start systems use small battery-powered fobs you can leave in your pocket. Smartphones with near-field communication (NFC) technology are starting to replace hotel room keys and cards and could one day be used with cars and home door locks as well.

Photo: Music compact discs. (Photo by Flickr user m01229)

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