December 9, 2013

Back to basics

End of radio silence.

After a hiatus of nearly two years, I thought it was high time some more posts were written.  I wish I could have contributed something much earlier but I had nothing worthy enough to see the light of day. 

My initial interest was in the social aspect of telephone use, especially in its early years, and how people modified their social practices and indeed developed new customs when dealing with this new technology.  These practices of the early 1900s are thrown into sharp relief when contrasted with our telephone behaviour today, specifically when using mobile phones.  The fact that iPhones can actually be used to place phone calls seems to be incidental and they perform so many other tasks that "phone" is something of a misnomer.  (The "tele-" prefix also seems to have been ditched somewhere along the way.)

Nowadays you'll probably only find a "traditional" telephone (i.e. with cables attached and a dial) in your grandmother's house, or in a museum.  Most teenagers would be clueless if they had to use one of these relics, simple though they are.  So I was surprised to see these things for sale at my local discount supermarket the other week ...
... a telephone handset (other colours available) that you plug into your mobile phone, to use when making/receiving phone calls.  Innovative, no?  I can't see it catching on, not when everyone uses headphones, which are easier to carry around.  Just what were the chaps in the marketing department thinking of when they came up with this idea?  Isn't the whole idea behind mobile telephony its, well, its mobility?  Those early primitive mobiles reminiscent of house bricks (with the aerials sticking out) have migrated to the modern history museum (already!) and here we are reproducing obsolete technology to join forces with state-of-the-art, 500 smart phones.

Could this be a retro trend in technology, a nostalgic move?  If so, then we might see the comeback of the telegram (sent by wire, not e-mail) and the return of the manual typewriter (the Kremlin sees the security benefits).

If you want a last-minute Christmas gift for the boss, or the mother-in-law, order your handset here - only €6.99!
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Digital Telephone Book by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.