On obsolescence

I’m not certain, but I’m inclined to believe that recently personal technology has advanced so rapidly that, when one finds herself packing and reorganizing for a move, such as I, a lot of “stuff” has become obsolete between move-in and move-out.  For years you could trust that, especially in a town full of students, interns, and underpaid Congressional and non-profit staffers, you could list a tube TV or VCR for sale and have several offers to buy them.  Now everything is digital, and I have the dilemma of what to do with a CD tower, of all things.

I inherited a pair of CD towers from a friend when she headed for the hills, and my first thought upon seeing them was “plant stand.”  For five years, one of them actually served as a CD tower for those CDs (read: less than 10) that I owned that actually had cases they could call home.  The other tower served as a baseball hat rack.  Neither of them ever became a plant stand.  I jettisoned one, which had a broken bar or two, and now I’m contemplating listing the other one on Craigslist.  Except, it occurred to me that even if you still owned CDs, you certainly didn’t still have the CD case, did you?  I had just spent the better part of a few hours extricating the paper inserts from the few audio CD cases I owned, in preparation for recycling them.  There’s a collection box at work for either the CD Recycling Center of America or GreenDisk.  What do I need those jewel cases for?  Some crafty mom website recommended using them (or old CDs, I can’t remember which) as paint palettes for kids.  Right…..I’ll do that with my imaginary kids.

And, in recent years, I have been laughed almost out of my own car several times when I informed people I was transporting that, no, I didn’t have an iPod-to-stereo adapter, you’ll have to bring CDs.  Yes, I had an iPod by this point, but I have never been on the forefront of personal technology purchases.   But, consider this: when I first moved into this space, only three generations of the iPod Classic and one generation of the iPod Mini (remember that?) had been released, and when you bought one of the then-new VW Beetles, you got a free engraved iPod for kicks.  Only the cool kids had iPods, and in certain communities, you were advised to swap out the signature white iPod headphones for those of a different color, lest you identify yourself to iPod muggers.  For its part, iTunes was nascent, and most people just ripped the CDs they already owned, and converted them into digital files.  All a way of saying that, when I first moved in, digital music was new, and most of us got our music fix from CDs.  I wouldn’t have thought twice about selling a CD tower on Craigslist.  I’ll try my luck, but I’m not optimistic.  There may be a plant stand hanging out in the corner of my bedroom yet.

3 thoughts on “On obsolescence

  1. Awesome. I can remember buying stackable racks to hold my cd jewelboxes… and then there were the caselogic sleeve cases… remember those? Remember how if you left those out on your car seat, there was a good chance you'd come back to a broken car window and missing cds?

    I'm sure we're on the cusp of all sorts other little obsolescences, but the two that stick out to me are:
    – Physical maps: why would you use one when you've got maps on your phone that show you where you are, where you're going, and points of interest in between? (unless you're hiking… then physical maps are probably a good thing. No batteries)
    – Zaggat: The original crowdsourced restaurant review book. Except why would you use this little book (or even the web site) when you've got Yelp.com, with much more frequent reviews and trending info?


    I really liked your post Steph. Have a great trip to that other city, and come back soon 🙂

  2. Thanks, Jamie. Your comment amuses me because my co-pilot says that the first thing she did after agreeing to drive out with me is buy road maps!

  3. Doh!!!!
    Well… maybe I have a skewed view as I'm living in a city these days. I still think physical maps are on their way out for many applications, but maybe it's going slower than I thought 🙂

    Give a big hug to your co-pilot for me

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