kiev4am: (Default)
I was thinking about photonovels today.

In the late 70s and early 80s, before VHS was widely accessible, the closest thing you could get to a home copy of a movie was a paperback book of film stills, not quite frame by frame, but close, with comic-book speech balloons. I had one for the old animated 'Lord of the Rings' film by Ralph Bakshi, and I used to re-read it almost as obsessively as the original books and trace the artwork too (shut up, I was nine).

Imagine, no video or DVD; a book of film stills instead. I can remember this clearly but it seems as remote, sad and quaint as something from an old, old lady's reminiscences. Mulling it over, it struck me how quick the pace of cultural extinction is now - how many things from my childhood and early adulthood are so very, very obsolete that they feel like they belong to some distant history lesson, beyond living memory. So I thought I'd list as many of them as I could think of offhand; you know, for the archaeologists.

Red and black typewriter ribbons
Yes, children, when we typed things we had a choice of red or black ink. That's it. And there wasn't a Delete button.

Paying by cheque at the supermarket
It was the only non-cash option. Those little plastic debit cards just didn't exist. You had one card, but it was your 'cheque guarantee' card, and all it did was prove your chequebook was yours. Or that you'd managed to steal both.

The most popular playground game is conkers
This might be doubly obscure: not just 30 years old, but British. You thread a horse chestnut on a string, and then you hit someone else's with it until one smashes. If yours doesn't, you win. This time of year, you'd see every chestnut tree wrecked by school kids chucking branches into it to bring the conkers down, and the ground underneath would be scattered with green spiky chestnut shells. Now, they're untouched.

Pay phones are the only 'mobile' option
You need to call someone from town, you walk and walk until you find a pay phone that works. Then you queue up to use it, and it eats your money. And if you're in town - if you're anywhere but home or work, in fact - you're off the grid. Uncontactable.

Carrying a box of matches in your bag
When I smoked in the 80s, we all used matches. Scottish Bluebell, if I recall correctly. Having a lighter made you a grown-up, and we didn't want that.

People write letters
Not emails, letters. Bits of paper, envelopes, stamps. Put simply, you didn't communicate anything in writing that couldn't handle a two-or-three day delay. Okay, eventually there were fax machines, but only Rich People had those.

Cassette tapes
'Home taping is killing music.' And if you wanted to skip to a certain song, you had to fast-forward through all the ones between. Shake, rattle, squeak. If the cassette was old or your tape-deck was in a bad mood, the tape could catch in the wheels, back up, and spool all over the guts of the machine to emerge as tiny concertinas, unplayable.

Floppy disks
'Removable media' had to be the size of a beer mat to hold 1MB of data. But that was pretty good when your PC hard disk was 50MB maximum.

God, I'll stop now. I feel about 85 years old.
kiev4am: (fell)
Something I've noticed about the internet these days is that everything's supposed to be connected to everything else. Half the blog tools out there have options to cross-post entries to FaceBook etc., and both here and on Twitter it's a built-in feature that your friends list or followers/followees - all the Venn diagrams of your online relationships - are common property for anyone who visits your page. And I couldn't find out the results of the Crazy Writer quiz without giving the application read and write access to my Twitter account, so I'll never get to find out whether I'm William Burroughs or Philip K. Dick. Woe.

It seems like Web 2.0 is driving a sea change in internet manners, a reversal of the compartmentalising mindset I'm more used to online. Instead of using different tools for different purposes, with different identities to control and separate our various social spheres and activities, we're supposed to merge all our internet behaviour into one big fuzzy interconnected mass; moreover, judging by the way this access is implemented (via functionality presented as cool toys or helpful utilities) we're supposed to want that.

I don't get it.

Now, I'm not really Philip K. Dick, so it's not about paranoia. This is obviously happening because enough people do want their online things combined, collated, amalgamated. But that's just not me. I have circles of friends that don't overlap; I have geeky writing stuff that I prefer to attach to a faceless cipher of a username; I have interests I talk about online which my 'real life' friends don't share and would probably find eccentric at best. (Stop looking at me like that! I meant comics!) I like compartments; and if I look at the various unrelated and unrelating groups of people in my real life, the distinct differences in personality and culture that set them apart and make them awkward at weddings, those compartments seem more natural, more representative of real social networks, than the privacy-light, extended happy family my blog options are trying to engineer for me.

Or am I just being old-fashioned?
kiev4am: (gah)
Okay, so I just worked out that LJ's Archive and Calendar features use the original posting date of the entry, regardless of whether you then subsequently edit it to reorder things. I had my first post originally set up as a sticky post (dated 2020), and I was editing those WildStorm review posts in private mode for a few days before I made them public, so changed the dates from August 30th and 31st to today. But if you do that the Calendar widget continues to show the old dates, with live hyperlinks that go nowhere, which means that if I'm a pedantic nerd who wants everything aligned properly (I am, and I do), I have to delete and repost my entries. Which I did. What a faff. Honestly, what's the point of allowing you to edit the date of the entry if the archival features ignore it?

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kiev4am

May 2012

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