The World Wide Web as we know it turns 25 today and has pervaded, infiltrated and dominated billions of lives around the world since then.With the advent of the ‘digital citizen’ and the ‘netizen’ since then, the Web has effectively replaced many services and things that were integral parts of day to day life not all that long ago. When for instance, was the last time you actually took the trouble of sticking photographs in an album? Or used a physical encyclopaedia? Or sent a greeting card? With that in mind, we decided to compile a list of 25 things that are either completely or well on their way to becoming obsolete in honour of the Web’s 25th birthday.
1. Appointment diaries, planners and the rolodex
Pencil this one down as ‘obsolete’.Seriously, who uses planners in the age of Google and other online calendars? With all sorts of handy features like pop-up reminders, alarms, notifications and even shared calendars to make sure that you don’t miss your important appointments, the days of assiduously writing down your important meetings are well and truly over.
When was the last time you actually unfolded a road map to get directions? Unless you’re a true physical map romantic, chances are that you don’t remember. With services like Google Maps not only showing you roads but also calculating the best routes for you to take, there is really little reason for you to use anything else.And with online maps getting smarter and smarter and expanding their services to also show you things like traffic movement and interesting places to visit, this battle is all but over.
One word. Wikipedia. Enough said. And for the times that Wikipedia just doesn’t cut it, there’s always Google. More likely to be found in a museum.
4. Smut (porn) magazines
Really. Who pays for their porn anymore? The online porn industry has single handedly engineered the misfortune of many ‘established’ smut magazines. What turns off porn stars more than anything else? Free sites, that’s what.
We may fight it as hard as we can, but the truth is that the Internet has long killed privacy. Unless you have absolutely no presence on social media, no one knows what you do and you have a job that won’t show up anywhere online (i.e. spy) chances are that even a cursory search of your name will reveal at least your basic information to the outside world.And then of course there is the fact that sites like Facebook and Google probably know everything about you, based on your browsing history. They claim to use this information to decide what ads to show you, but the truth is that they probably know you better than you may know yourself.
Creeped out yet? Good, because you should be.
Remember all those ‘last’ telegrams that were sent out in nostalgia last year? Yeah, blame email for that. Which brings us to point 7 which is….
Ah the old physical letters! Initially, the handwritten ones and then typed letters. The romanticized bundles of letters tied up with a blue ribbon in the metaphorical attic are destined to be replaced with printouts of emails.
8. Reference libraries
With online references, online book stores and so many academic articles available online for a fee, there is really no reason to trudge to a reference library, painstakingly leaf through musty volumes of books, and then carefully photocopy the sections you need. A net connection, credit card and a printer is really all you need.
9. Train timetables and almanacs
With schedules of trains and expected arrival times all available online, no one really buys timetables, but for the nostalgic value.
10. Attention spans
Have you even read this far? Well done. But seriously the Internet with all its bite-sized chunks of news and snippets, short videos and little pictures, our collective attention spans are getting shorter and… oh look! It’s a picture of a cat! Sorry, where were we?
Apologies for the distraction. Please scroll back up to read again
11. Airline booking centres
The sheer number of printouts and mobile phones with PNRs that are waved around at airports is enough explanation for this one. Booking tickets has become worlds easier now.
With online dictionaries, it’s become much easier to type and search for words rather than painstakingly look them up in the physical dictionary. And as we all know, dictionary.com is the new tool of Scrabble lovers everywhere.
13. Photo albums
If it’s not on Facebook, it probably didn’t happen. (But watch out for those privacy settings)
14. Recipe books
Julie and Julia notwithstanding, the truth is that unless you’re a huge fan of a particular cook, you’re going to search for all your recipes online. It’s become that easy.
15. Greeting cards
The traditional greeting cards have been dealt a double whammy. First up, there were the e-card sites like Hallmark and 123greetings and now there is social media. Wishing people on Facebook is the new greeting card, people. You know it’s true.
16. Book stores
Amazon. Flipkart. Need we say more? Except for when you want a worn-out early edition, but then you can probably find it on eBay.
17 . Copyright
While we don’t advocate piracy, the fact is that we can’t ignore the effect of the Internet on copyrighted material like songs, movies and even books. Although industries and artists have been trying to fight back along with newly strengthened laws and monitoring, the fact is that it’s not that easy to do.But the effect of the Internet on copyright has not been all bad. There are theCopyleft and Creative Commons movements that have sought to share content fairly, instead of restricting them under copyright laws.
Internet plays matchmaker too
18. Personal diaries
These were first replaced by the blogs. But now we have Twitter and Facebook. Yup. Personal diaries in 140 characters in less. As for private diaries… please refer point 5.
19. Yellow pages
Want a number or address? Google it.
20. Matrimonial ads
While these are still completely not dead, as newspaper pages will prove, fact is that more and more people are turning to online matrimonial services to find the ‘perfect partner’ for themselves or their offspring. And there’s so much more choice and scope for stalking thanks to Facebook and Google. Again, refer point 5.
Remember the expression, “Did you get the fax I sent?”. Us neither.
22. What’s a blind date?
Though you may not ‘personally’ know someone before you meet them, chances are that with Google, Facebook and a little help from your friends, will help you find out what Mr or Ms Stranger looks like, where they work, where they went to school and what they like to eat and what they did last Saturday. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can find out pretty much anything you want about a person online. The only challenge will be how not to freak them out by revealing everything you know about them… on your first date.
Not the best way to begin a blind date
Google, Linkedin and the other social networks are really making a lot of services redundant. Private investigators can be added to the list.
24. Bill payment centres
No more standing in lines to pay your electricity and water bills, thanks to the fact that most utility service providers have their own payment gateways.
Everyone is an expert thanks to Google and Wikipedia — ON the surface anyway. But given the fact that attention spans are already obsolete, who needs in-depth knowledge anyway?