Happy New Year
Happy 2007! I live in the greater Pasadena area, and that city throws a big annual floral New Year’s party for a large number of visitors and an even larger television audience. We were wakened by the non-stealthy roar of the Stealth bomber (& 2 fighter escort jets) at 7:30 this morning– the jets fly in wide circles near the mountains before they start the parade just after 8 by strafing the 5+ mile route. We went outside to look, and discovered that the best way to spot the jets is to stand outside and shiver for a bit waiting for the next pass; by the time the sound reached us, the jets receded from sight.
My first in-person viewing of the parade was 1983, and believe it or not, the memory of that day is relevant to this site’s theme of digital tools for preserving memories.
On New Year’s Day in 1983, I worked the parade. I walked up and down two aisles of bleachers right near where the parade turns the corner, smack dab in the prime TV-camera viewing region. I sold Kodak film to loyal alums and boosters of the two college football teams. I did it to raise money for an overseas trip I took in the spring of that year; my school had exclusive rights to sell Kodak film along the parade route.
Today, while watching the TV coverage of the parade—-what? You think I braved the crowds to go down to the parade route? If you don’t live within walking distance or snag an invite to a parade-viewing party, the best way to watch it is in HiDef TV a few miles away. So yes, there I was, watching on TV, and I saw that section of bleachers where I first saw the parade, lo these 24 years ago. I thought about what enterprising students do now to make money.
Do people use film cameras anymore?
I suppose that some do, and I imagine that there’d be good business in disposable cameras, for those who forgot, or whose digital cameras have run out of juice or room on the media card. I suppose they sell batteries, then. Maybe they even sell digital media cards. It’s no longer a focused business of film, just film. I bet that this morning they sold a lot less film than was sold in 1983. Or 1993. Or even 2003.
A little over seven years ago, just before Y2K, I bought my first high-resolution digital camera. Now you can buy a cell phone that has a camera phone on it that shoots higher resolution than my old Nikon Coolpix 950. In these seven years, there’ve been monumental shifts in media and formats for photography.
(1983 was a banner year for another media format—the first audio CD players were sold in the U.S. that year.)
Happy New Year! Things change, and things remain the same. The sun continues to rise and set. It may be 2007, but physics doesn’t change—-the sound of figher jets always travels slower than the sight of ’em. But they way that we capture and store sounds and sights has changed and is changing, and will continue to change.
This is more than a fun little gee-whiz look back at New Year’s Day
one generation ago. How much change will transpire in several generations? Will the formats we use now be readable by the great-grandchildren of the future who muse over how we lived way back in those olden days of 2007?
Here’s hoping that those who watch New Year’s Day parades in the year 2087 can easily access the media we create to remember the day in pictures.. and videos… and audio recordings.
Just after posting this, I went to watch TV. When we powered it on, Comedy Central was on, playing The Mind of Mencia. Carlos Mencia was celebrating the new year with a bout of destroying old technology. Mencia pulled a loop of tape out of a cassette tape (he said, “If you know what this is, kill yourself”) and then his sidekick took a big hammer and smashed it to smithereens. Also destroyed: a fax machine and a pager. Maybe more, we TiVoed it and watched something else.
How apt, no? Happy New Year. Destroy (or otherwise deal with) obsolete technology… it seems to be a theme.