Also, sidenote: I still use handkerchiefs. It’s true, I am really this bad ass.
So, as you might expect from the preceding, I would have zero problem turning back the clock to the 1990s or even the 1980s.
And, consequently, there’s a lot of technology (that’s now obsolete) that I used to love and wish would come back.
Here’s my short list:
Back in the day, people used to have these proto-smartphone devices that kind of look like cave paintings in relation to modern smartphones.
These were kind of tweener devices, as people began to move from pagers to smartphones; there was a small screen, plus a physical keypad underneath.
It was sort of like if a tech executive back in the day was like: Hey, combine a computer screen and keyboard into a smaller, single device. There you go; that was the BlackBerry.
There weren’t apps, and, really, you were mostly just replying to email and visiting websites.
But my favorite thing about the BlackBerry was that, like pagers, they could clip to your belt with a holster – making you, like, a lamer version of Doc Holliday who meant no harm but only wanted to check on that incoming message about the Sugar Ray concert.
(The Lawyer Angle. One thing about these modern smartphones is all the notifications coming in from everyone, everywhere, all at once. And, lawyers, as well as other modern business professionals, are susceptible to urgency addition — which is real, and crushing. You may never be able to return to your BlackBerry, but you can turn off your notifications, put your phone on airplane mode, or just shut it down in order to give yourself a respite.)
2) Google Wave
Actually, Google Wave was stupid — even when it first came out. Hey, not every social media idea can be TikTok.
(The Lawyer Angle. But, just because Google Wave sucked, that’s not an excuse to entirely bag on social media. Most users of social media never even post anything — so, the bar is really low to become relevant or, at least, visible enough to generate more referrals and more direct leads. The traditional attorney excuse is that, if one technology is bad, they’re all bad — so, I won’t use any. But that’s just dumb. If you buy a lemon once — are you never buying another car? C’mon, man.)
Imagine if you had a computer, but all you could do was type stuff out on it. That was what word processors were!
Essentially, these bad boys were just glorified (electronic) typewriters. Get your draft done, then save it to a floppy or hard disc.
That’s right: There was no cloud to save to, which is why I still incessantly hit the save button (also still a disc icon) on documents I’m drafting.
One awesome thing about word processors was that there was no internet connection, which meant that you could actually concentrate on what you were doing.
You weren’t writing a paper, and also checking ESPN.com or Facebook. Sometimes, I’ll still turn off the Wi-Fi on my laptop, to effectively turn it into a word processor, when I really need to get something done.
(The Lawyer Angle. Now, if you’re still out there using dictation software, and paying separately for it — since you’ve finally given up your typewriter — that’s a waste of money. Microsoft Word has built-in dictation, and it’s pretty darn good. You know how I test dictation software? I play the Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere” and see if the system can pick up the lyrics. Word did. Word Up!)
Overhead projectors looked like dinosaurs. Swear to God. If you caught one in the right light by a body of water, it would look exactly like that famous hoax photo of the Loch Ness Monster.
So, stay with me here: You know how people now connect their laptops or tablets to a projector via an HDMI cable to make presentations? Well, the overhead projector stood in for the whole apparatus in the ’80s.
Pretty much everything I ever learned in grade school was presented via the overhead projector format. The light was above a glass panel that would magnify and expand whatever translucent documents you would place on the panel, and viola! That image would then be projected onto the screen in the front of the classroom.
(The Lawyer Angle. Maybe you’re still rolling out the overhead projector in order to make those presentations in open court really sing? Guess what, you don’t need that anymore, because there are iPad apps for looking like a boss at trial, as well as softwares that can effectively serve as trial notebooks, like Evernote. RIP Circus Ponies.)
This voice recording device rocketed in popularity after folks saw its rather vital importance to the plot of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” — it was actually a product that was built for the movie, and then sold.
And, since every little kid wanted to be Kevin McAllister in the early ’90s, it was a necessity to have this product in your hot, little hands, so you could mess with your friends and family. Now, everything does voice recordings. Ho hum.
(The Lawyer Angle. Nobody better mess with Kevin McCallister and his shovel- and pigeon-wielding friends. But, you don’t need a Talkboy to record audio anymore. Pretty much every video meeting software will record video and audio (including separate tracks); plus, there are free standalone tools (like Audacity) if you’re in a pinch. Get a leg up on your depositions, record those podcasts, make your uncle look like a tool. The world is your veritable oyster.)
This isn’t a technology application per se, unless you count the videocassettes that everybody checked out, but Blockbuster video is a touchstone of wistfulness for lots of middle-aged people — to the point where there is still content being produced on the subject, by none other than Netflix, which basically destroyed Blockbuster.
When I was a kid, my Dad would regularly want to watch movies from Blockbuster, but he didn’t want to go anywhere, like ever. So, he would always say, “I buy, you fly!” — which meant that I would go to Blockbuster and pick up the movie, but that he would pay for it. It was a decent tradeoff, on both sides.
Nowadays, I’ll open Netflix, and spend like a half hour, just browsing the titles.
My kids are always like: “What the hell are you doing?”
Well, that’s the closest you can get to walking around a Blockbuster, in the digital age.