Friday, April 8, 2011
“When I was a child, the only phones we had were connected by a cord to the telephone line in a wall. You know those telephone poles you see outside? Conversations travelled across those wires from one phone to the next. My grandmother even had a little telephone table that she sat at while she made her phone calls.
“The telephone itself had a rotary dial, and later we had push button dialing. But we couldn’t walk around the house with the phone – the length of the telephone cord limited us. In the 1980’s cordless phones became popular, but the reception was poor, and you couldn’t travel too far from the base…”
I find myself imagining the conversations we will be having within the next couple of decades about how we used to read books. The story will go something like this:
“When I was a child a book was something that was printed on paper. It had a cover and hundreds of pages. We kept the books we owned on a large wooden bookshelf in the living room – each book taking up about an inch of space.
“When we wanted to borrow books we went to the library – that was a place where all the books were available to the public, for free. We could borrow them for two weeks and then we had to return them. Sometimes we had to wait for the book we wanted to read to become available.
“We could buy books at a bookstore. Yes, I do mean amazon.com, but I’m really referring to stores like you find at the mall or shopping plaza. Bookstores were places where you could go to browse the newest books and purchase your own copy to read, lend to a friend, or give as a gift. At some of these bookstores you could have a cup of coffee while checking out the latest books.
“If you were lucky enough to meet the author you could even have a book signed – those books were treasures.
“We turned pages with our fingers, being careful not to bend them as we did so. The idea of swiping a screen to turn a page was inconceivable. The only screens we had were on our TVs, and later our computers. But we didn’t touch the screens – that would leave annoying fingerprints that had to be cleaned…”
Is this what we’ll be saying in the future? I predict that we’ll be having these conversations within the next ten years. What do you think?