Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm so old ...

that I remember when MTV only showed music videos. That is what I tell my students, and now I have the fake graph to back it up.

song chart memes
from graphjam, LOLgraphs for the Excel-impaired.

I've also used a 'brick' cell phone and Zip disks, not to mention 8-inch floppies. The former is a good lesson on the importance of mundane technologies such as batteries (for power) and magnets (for speakers) in the miniaturization of every day items. The latter is a good lesson in the impermanence of any data storage solution. Cell phones are also an interesting lesson in the indirect effect of a technology: by driving lithium-ion battery development, they are enabling the next generation of hybrid or electric cars. (If you did not know it, these batteries have only been commercialized in the last 15 years, but are only slightly newer than nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries that powered the cool toys of the late 20th century.)

Entertainment offers an interesting window into the history of technology. Movies set in the present day will typically feature product placement of whatever was the hippest, coolest consumer items of that day. Many of my parent's wedding gifts are prominently displayed in movies of that era. The crucial plot element of "Zip Disk" in Zoolander will need explaining to the next generation, just as its use of absurdly small cell phones will probably not be as funny in twenty years.

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