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Posted on May 3, 2007 in Technology | 2 comments

The Last of the True Disbelievers

The Last of the True Disbelievers


As I type some music is arriving in my house. It is the rather splendid 1985 mini-album by
The Brilliant Corners, Growing Up Absurd. Not available on CD, I got it from EBay on vinyl and, being far too lazy to do it myself, Stuart* borrowed my USB turntable and he has MP3’d it for me and is currently uploading it to my server behind the TV.

In the age we live in, this is perhaps not happening in every living room in the land**, but isn’t exactly remarkable. Its not like we built the bits ourselves. We bought it from t’Internet.

Thing is, this still has an element of wonder to it. Sure, I’m a technology kinda guy, I understand it, its not magic, but if you’d asked me when I was 12, playing vinyl on the all-in-one Waltham Music Centre (with built-in digital clock no less) if this kind of thing would ever be likely, I might have been a bit amazed.

I think I was lucky in that I caught the very end of the innocent times, I can track the rise of true technology with my passing years.

  • Black and white TV, 3 channels
  • Colour TV, with a remote! (with one BIG button)
  • Channel 4/Teletext
  • VHS
  • and so on…

And then, of course, the mighty ZX81. If you want trace back the rise of my own personal Skynet, it starts at Christmas 1981.

10 PRINT “SCOTT”
20 GOTO 10

Wow.

Wow? Wow is the word. What makes you go wow? The point, which I am sluggishly and with no small amount of wine involved getting to, is that much of the wow has gone out of the world because a the glass ceiling of wow has been broken. Kids today just see the next thing to come along as evolution not revolution. You don’t get “Wow” you get “well, duh!”. The baseline has moved so much that the asymptote of wonder has been reached. We will never stop progressing, never stop seeing new things, but we are now so close the to top of the wonder-curve that nothing will be remarkable ever again.

If you tell a kid of today that you said “the graphics are amazing” when talking about Sabrewulf on the Spectrum or that the speech used in Impossible Mission in the C64 was “astounding”, you simply get laughed at. But at the time, they brought with them a “wow”, an amount of disbelief from which comes wonder.

I’m happy to have been one of the last of the true disbelievers***. I’m as happy as I am equally miffed that I bet there is a lot of really cool stuff that will happen after I’m dead that I’ll never see and that frankly, when it arrives, no one will be all that surprised about.

Website of the Day:
All hail the real
wow!

Track of the Day:
Well, it has to be the newly arrived Mary by The Brilliant Corners which is on “growing Up Absurd” available on a server under my TV.

* – the notable freelance writer and sci-fi critic, come on Wikipedia, get the finger out
** – some people have lives, apparently, dim-witted loons
*** – credit must go to the mighty Ciaran and song “Last of the True Believers” by That Petrol Emotion

2 Comments

  1. Nice post, and all true.

    The speech in Mission Impossible was astounding.

  2. deffo spot on here mr l, the only real wows nowadays are achieved by thinking back to how things used to be, rather than about how you react to new things…still I have a comfortable “joy” with my technology which hasn’t worn off depite it having been around a good while…particularly in the music studio dept…10 years ago I would have needed a Ferrari’s worth of studio gear to record a demo, nowadays 2G gets you all you need….one last thing….(“The baseline has moved so much that the asymptote of wonder has been reached”)… is this kind of “I’ve just swallowed a Thesaurus” style of writing strictly necessary on a blog?

    ..good weekend all!….

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