Tools never die

Tools never die

Photo from Flickr by: davidjwbaileyI’ve written about our favorite technology products from the past here before. I fondly remember using my Sony Walkman cassette player, a product that is now obsolete. Or is it?

There was a fantastic interview on NPR recently that concluded that nothing in technology ever becomes obsolete. You’re likely going to scoff at that statement.

Take a listen to this short interview by Robert Krulwich with Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired Magazine. You will hear Kelly proclaim, “I say there is no species of technology that have ever gone globally extinct on this planet.”

Kelly recently wrote a book called What Technology Wants. Here’s an excerpt worth reading and thinking about:

A close examination of a supposedly extinct bygone technology almost always shows that somewhere on the planet someone is still producing it. A technique or artifact may be rare in the modern urban world but quite common in the developing rural world. For instance, Burma is full of oxcart technology; basketry is ubiquitous in most of Africa; hand spinning is still thriving in Bolivia. A supposedly dead technology may be enthusiastically embraced by a heritage-based minority in modern society, if only for ritual satisfaction. Consider the traditional ways of the Amish, or modern tribal communities or fanatical vinyl record collectors. Often old technology is obsolete, that is, it is not very ubiquitous or is second rate, but it still may be in small-time use.

Can you think of any technology that is completely obsolete? At first I thought it was easy, but after listening to the interview, now I’m not so sure.

Photo from Flickr by: davidjwbailey