Technology and Time Marching On

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how fast technology races along.  Even those of us who learned to type (a skill now known as keyboarding, I believe) on manual typewriters (yep, really–they didn’t even plug into the wall) would be hard pressed to live without computers today.  When I joined Romance Writers of America® back in the mid 90s, there were still plenty of folks who didn’t have email.  No one had a cell phone.

One bit of technology that has nearly vanished is the cassette tape.  I have a couple of multimedia radios with tape decks around the house, but I don’t know if they work.  My eight-year-old car has a CD player but no tape deck.  Back in the day West Houston RWA collected a considerable tape library of workshops recorded at national conferences and local meetings, but it fell into disuse as tapes were replaced by CDs, and by downloadable audio files.  One day last summer the collection found its way to the Scorekeeper, where it took refuge (and took up space) in my office.  When I agreed to be chapter president, I brought the tapes home, and wondered what the heck to do with them.

The collection hadn’t been catalogued in years.  The newest ones I saw were ten or twelve years old, and some went back to the 1980s.  A lot of the tapes covered up-to-date topics like what the editors of long defunct imprints were looking for in 1995.  But there was good stuff in there, too, craft workshops and such, from past conferences.  So yesterday I loaded the tapes, ten or twelve trays of them, and hauled them to the monthly chapter meeting.  “Look through them and take what you want,” I said, “because whatever’s left when we leave is going in the dumpster.”

Fortunately I didn’t have to do that.  Quite a few of the tapes found new homes, and when we left I helped another member load the remainder into her car for a friend.  So even in the day of CDs and computer downloads, there’s a little bit of life left in those old cassette tapes. 

I didn’t even look through them for myself, although I probably should have.  But I know perfectly well I’d never get around to listening to them.  I’ve still got a couple of trays of music cassettes tucked away in a cupboard, and I’ll bet they’ve got a quarter inch of dust on them.  These days when I want music I don’t even play CDs (although I do keep some in my car).  I listen to MusicChoice on Comcast or Pandora on my computer.  And then there’s that other cupboard full of record albums.  You know, those twelve-inch discs made of black vinyl?  Remember those?  I wonder if I still have a turntable tucked away somewhere.

Speaking of technology, when I woke up this morning my bedside clock radio had corrected itself to Daylight Saving Time, as had the DVR boxes attached to my TVs.  For much of the morning I found myself stopping to reset yet another clock.  There is no reason one person needs that many clocks, but there they are.  I think I’ve changed them all, although I can’t say how many of them agree.  If they all fall within a range of five minutes or so, I’m happy.

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