Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things you'll remember: Part Two

Nothing lasts forever. Except, perhaps, forever.

Before I got onto that honey bee tangent I was talking about the things from our lives which are rapidly passing into memory. And, in a mere generation even the memory will be gone.

Technology does that. It creates new ways of doing old things and mind-blowing new things most of us could never imagine. That's cool stuff but what's even better, I think, is that technology sweeps us all forward in a stream, rushing past ever-changing landscapes.

Take my profession, for example: broadcasting. It is rapidly become anachronistic.

For my forty years of experience and supposed expertise I can't for a minute understand why music radio stations still exist. Who needs them? The human factor, camaraderie and entertainment, were distilled from them years ago. Now we're left with mostly mindless jukeboxes that play songs they merely guess we might like to hear (and commercials they know damned well we don't want to hear.) The fact that we all carry our own radio stations containing thousands of songs of our own selection in a device the size of a matchbox seems to have been missed entirely by my industry.

Talk radio is still viable but only because there is money yet to be made in it, which soon won't be the case because technology has given everybody a pulpit: a microphone, a web cam, and a blog.

I am a lamplighter in the twenty-first century.

Luckily for me, I am approaching retirement age. My younger colleagues need to get scrambling to learn new ways to earn a living. And honestly, as much as I have loved my career I won't bemoan its passing. That's the way things work in a world driven by creative human ingenuity. We dream, we strive, we achieve; we move down that stream.

Last week Carolann, our seven-year-old grandson, Isaiah, and I were singing along with Christmas songs on the car radio. When Feliz Navidad came on we all had a bit of trouble remembering the lyrics. (That's pretty funny considering there are, literally, just six words in that song plus a seven-word English translation.) Specifically, we were all butchering "Prospero Ano y Felicidad." When the song ended Carolann was repeating the words aloud so that she might remember them but still having a bit of trouble with that new year greeting en español. But Isaiah had a simple solution:

"Play it again, Nana."

He couldn't imagine a device that played a song one time, and one time only.

Goodbye, radio.

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