Monday, June 14, 2004

Confusion in Store, pt. 1 (Obsolete)

For about twelve minutes, in 1999, I was computer savvy. Or, to be more precise, I was pretty adroit with all things print and web design. My university had begun offering dozens of computer classes, and, with the ferocity of a kid going for Eagle Scout, I made it my goal to attend every one. I became my office's one-woman graphic design department. I accompanied my boss to her elegant faculty club functions, because I was the only one who knew how to run her laptop-presentations. Eventually, I was allowed to design an entire conference web site — in part because I was stupid enough to volunteer the extra hours on it and in part because the office could pay me a smidgen of what it cost to hire a professional.*

Five years hence, my particular brand of techno-savvy is a lot like the public pay phone. Both represent a by-gone era. And both are dwindling to the point of extinction.

And so I found myself in Target yesterday, staring in bewilderment at the shelves of blank CDs and DVDs and feeling nostalgic for the past. (Wouldn't the sale of "Media for Computer Burning" once have seemed incongruous, or even insane?) But, hey, I'm adaptable, and I had read all the directions for my new CD-burner, such that they were. This wasn’t rocket science**, so I should be able to find what I needed for my data storage.

Data storage. The GameBoy chirping and twittering in the aisle behind me made “data storage” sound suddenly frumpy and outmoded. It didn’t help that most of the blank CDs were for recording music. I started to wonder if “RW” CDs really existed, or if I had conjured them in a dream. I also pondered the value of the 100-audioCD pack in kid-currency. (Would the 100-pack make an exciting gift — in the same way that a jumbo pack of blank cassette tapes once gladdened my 14-year-old heart?***) There appear to be different economies of music burning for those born before and those born after 1984. Insist on buying your blank CDs in cases and each costs about a dollar. But buy the enormous stack of loose CDs and separate CD cases and then each CD+case cost only 50-odd cents. (Btw, like traditional liner notes, cases are increasingly passé.****)

Thus distracted from my “data storage” project, I was starting to feel old. Rip Van Winkle old. I’m accustomed to panic attacks in Target. But, this time, the usual “Why-do-we-need-all-this-crap?” feeling had given way to a feeling of“Why-do-we-need-all-this-expensive-and-soon-to-be-obsolete-crap?”.

Desperate, I pounced on two teenagers who came up the aisle. Bless them, they gave me the information I sought. But not before exchanging a glance that made clear how adorable my helplessness.

No matter. I went home and learned how to work our DVD player, burn data to a CD, and download music (legally). All in one day.

Maybe I'll have another twelve minutes of techno-savvy before I die.

* Proof that stupidity can produce smart results: At least that gig gave me an excuse to spend long hours with my future husband.
** I hate that expression, which seems designed to mock the self-conscious liberal arts student. "Nope. It ain’t rocket science, but, then, nothing in your life ever will be, eh?"
***Am I correct in observing that, apart from toilet paper, few products are promoted as “Jumbo” these days?
**** So is spelling out “by the way,” btw.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Benedict said...

*Two wrongs can make a right.
**"Oh yeah? I'd like to hear those Scientists "place" their technology within the contemporary north american ethos."
***Jumbo shrimp!
****Erase letters at your own prl.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger YelloCello said...

*Wait...what/who are the two "wrongs" in question here? On second thought, don't answer that.
**Yeah! Stupid rocket scientists! And their stupid, uh, rockets.
***Still, "jumbo" is so last century. These days, aren't those shrimp even more likely to be touted as "low-carb"?
****Rt n, Bndct!


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