B12 Solipsism

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The Fading Sounds of Analog Technology

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Artifactual Nonchalance

Ah, the sounds of my youth. Vinyl record scratches, dial tones, busy signals, typewriter keys clacking, modems squawking even. I’m with David Pogue, and will miss these sounds as they join previously vanished sounds, horses clomping on cobblestone streets, ship masts creaking, and steam rail engines.

Then there’s the record-scratch sound, still used frequently in ads and comic scenes to indicate someone’s train of thought going off the rails. Isn’t it weird that we still use that sound? For the most part, the last 20 years’ worth of viewers and listeners have never even heard that sound in real life! (In a 2008 NPR segment, the host asked some teenagers if they could identify the sound. They couldn’t. “I have no idea…. I know I saw it on TV.”)

And then there’s the rewind/fast-forward gibberish sounds — of TAPE. What will they do in the movies, now that random-access digital video formats deprive producers of that audience-cueing sound?

What about modem-dialing shrieks? Sure, we’re all thrilled to have always-on Internet connections. But wasn’t there something satisfying, something understandable, about that staticky call-and-response from our computers to the mothership?

We’re losing the dial tone, too. Cellphones don’t have dial tones. Only landlines do, and those are rapidly disappearing. And without the dial tone, how will movie producers ever indicate that someone’s hung up on a character? (Even though that was an unrealistic depiction to begin with.)

Funny thing is, we’re replacing these sounds mainly with… nothing! What’s the sound of broadband? Of rewinding a CD?

(click here to continue reading The Fading Sounds of Analog Technology -David Pogue – NYTimes.com.)


Written by Seth Anderson

March 5th, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Posted in News-esque

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