Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Changing Society

This came from a friend in Hawaii; thought you might enjoy:

1. The Post Office:  Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are in such deep financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail is junk and bills.
2. The Check:  Great Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would go out of business.
3. The Newspaper:  The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.
4. The Book:  You say you will never give up the physical book. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes but I quickly changed my mind when I discovered  I could get albums for half price without ever leaving home. The same thing is happening with books. You can browse a bookstore online and read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find you're lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget.
5. The Land Line Telephone:  Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep their land line telephone simply because they're always had it. But you are paying double  for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call others that use the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.
6. Music:  This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death, and not just from illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative  music being able to get to the people who want to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalog items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with--like the older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the documentary, "Before the Music Dies."
7. Television:  Revenues to the networks are down dramatically, and not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.  And they're playing games and doing other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Perhaps it's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.
8. "Things" You Own:  Many possessions we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive on which you store pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can reinstall it if need be. But that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and Mac OS will be tied straight to the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, etc. from any laptop or hand-held device. But will you actually own any of this or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable?
9. Privacy:  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. There are cameras on the street, in most buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. You can be sure that "they" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads change to reflect those habits. And "they" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.