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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes It Is Difficult To See The Changes Around You

Nine things that will disappear in our lifetime. Whether these changes are
good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not,
here they come:

1.     The Post Office.  Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. 
They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to
sustain it long term.  Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out
the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive.  Most of your
mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2.     The Cheque.   Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with
ques by 2018.  It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year
to process che
ques.  Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to
the eventual demise of the che
que.  This plays right into the death of the
post office.  If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them
by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3.     The Newspaper.  The younger generation simply doesn't read the
newspaper.  They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print
edition.  That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man.  As
for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it.  The rise in mobile
Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and
magazine publishers to form an alliance.  They have met with Apple,
Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for
paid subscription services.

4.     The Book.  You say you will never give up the physical book that you
hold in your hand and turn the literal pages.  I said the same thing about
downloading music from iTunes.  I wanted my hard copy CD.  But I quickly
changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the
price without ever leaving home to get the latest music.  The same thing
will happen with books.  You can browse a bookstore online and even read
a preview chapter before you buy.  And the price is less than half that of a
real book.  And think of the convenience!  Once you start flicking your
fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the
story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're
holding a gadget instead of a book.

5.     The Land Line Telephone.  Unless you have a large family and make a lot
of local calls, you don't need it anymore.  Most people keep it simply
because they've always had it.  But you are paying double charges for that
extra service.  All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using
the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.

6.     Music.  This is one of the saddest parts of the change story.  The music
industry is dying a slow death.  Not just because of illegal downloading. 
It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the
people who would like to hear it.  Greed and corruption is the problem. 
The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. 
Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalog items," meaning
traditional music that the public is familiar with.  Older established artists. 
This is also true on the live concert circuit.  To explore this fascinating and
disturbing topic further, check out the book, ”Appetite for Self-Destruction"
by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7.     Television.  Revenues to the networks are down dramatically.  Not just
because of the economy.  People are watching TV and movies streamed
from their computers.  And they're playing games and doing lots of other
things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV.  Prime time
shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. 
Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and
30 seconds.  I say good riddance to most of it.  It's time for the cable companies
to be put out of our misery..  Let the people choose what they want to watch
online and through Netflix.

8.     The "Things" That You Own.  Many of the very possessions that we used to
own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. 
They may simply reside in "the cloud."  Today your computer has a hard drive
and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents.  Your software is
on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be.  But all of that is
changing.  Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud
services."  That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be
built into the operating system.  So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be
tied straight into the Internet.  If you click an icon, it will open something in the
Internet cloud.  If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud.  And you
may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider.  In this virtual world,
you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or
handheld device.  That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this
"stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?"  Will
most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical?  It makes you want
to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf,
or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.
9.     Privacy.  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it
would be privacy. That's gone.  It's been gone for a long time anyway.  There
are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your
computer and cell phone.  But you can be sure that 24/7, "they" know who
you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google
Street View.  If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and
your ads will change to reflect those habits.  And "they" will try to get you to
buy something else.  Again and again.

All we will have that can't be changed are memories.

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