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Thinking out loud about technology 

One thing that's incredibly frustrating about the forward development of technology (especially under capitalism) is that when a new technology supersedes another, we lose entire modalities of interacting with the world, and all research into the old modalities cease (or, maybe more accurately, the institutional knowledge for those modalities disappears, hurting even those that would otherwise continue it).

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Thinking out loud about technology 

Mostly thinking about this in the context of getting into analog photography. Canon just stopped selling new film cameras a couple years ago (they stopped production 2012ish? and had a ton leftover), and most other manufacturers stopped a decade or more ago. And so many films and other consumables have been discontinued.

And in most senses, digital photography is better! Turnaround time, image reproduction, convenience.

But...

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Thinking out loud about technology 

Analog photography forces you to think more about each shot, and review each photo after you've walked away from it for a while. And there are effects that are impossible or very difficult to reproduce digitally (IR films, or Kodak Aerochrome, anyone?).

And eventually, we stand to lose that forever. Partially because companies are just gonna shutter those film lines without documenting or releasing any info about the chemistry.

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Thinking out loud about technology 

Even the tech part of it is doomed to fall to dust! Some of the best film scanners ever made were made in the late 90's/early 2000's. And many of them no longer work, due to software atrophy.

And sure, high resolution imaging tech lives on in other forms, but it's no longer as accessible, or affordable.

Again, lost modalities of interacting with the world. And lost modalities of creating art. Lost modalities of self-expression.

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Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph there's currently this "revival" in audio cassettes, but its increasingly difficult to find a decent Japanese tape deck with good audio quality (which existed from the 1970s to the 2000s) and no companies are making them any more, so its only low-fi tapes that are being made (when cassettes are capable of sounding a lot better on decent equipment)

Thinking out loud about technology 

@vfrmedia Yeah! Or the lack of vinyl presses to keep up with current demand.

Heck, back when I was flying transatlantic balloons, the research and documentation for zero-pressure balloons basically ended in the 50s when Superpressure balloons took over everything. And even then, a lot of details were missing/held in deep archival storage/locked up by various aerospace companies.

Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph there's plenty of capacity to produce vinyl here in Europe and interestingly new turntables are still being made (its just high quality cassette decks that no one is bothering to make, maybe due to Japanese corporates holding on to the intellectual property and not wanting to release it?)

Thinking out loud about technology 

@vfrmedia @Zuph yeah, vinyl's one of the rare examples of a place where it seems like society has gone "wait a minute, actually how about we hold on to this". i wish there were more.

i keep thinking i should find a decent tape deck while it's still possible. assuming it _is_ still possible.

Thinking out loud about technology 

@brennen @Zuph there are even new reel to reel decks being made (costing as much as a decent small to medium size European car, but studio tape decks did always cost around that amount).

Thinking out loud about technology 

@brennen @vfrmedia Yeah, my read on this might be out of date. I remember seeing articles like this (economist.com/business/2017/05) several years ago, talking about long delays in getting vinyl pressed due to a lack of machinery.

Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph @brennen

just a few months later a load of equipment was found in Eastern Europe and restored in Germany and (I think) Czech republic, I suspect a lot of old cassette production equipment has been restored as well..

Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph i think about all of this constantly.

as with culture broadly, "progress" is such a lossy way to understand what happens. it's not that i disbelieve in forward motion, exactly. it's that "forward-is-new-and-new-is-good vs. back-is-old-and-old-was-worse" is a model that just can't encompass so many dimensions of experience and so many arrangements of fact.

Thinking out loud about technology 

@brennen Right! Like, I'm sure this is all mostly due to capitalism's need to fuel indefinite growth.

But I'm more interested in thinking about how things could be different! Imagine if Kodak released detailed chemistry and manufacturing documentation for Aerochrome when they discontinued it? Or if all this knowledge were public in the first place? Imagine the bounty we'd be living with!

Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph

> Like, I'm sure this is all mostly due to capitalism's need to fuel indefinite growth.

i don't doubt for a second this drives energy into a lot of the pathology. the constant churn, the wheel re-inventing, the profit motive constantly setting fire to communitarian accumulations of value... still, i think it also proceeds from something deeper in the guts of technical progress itself. a dynamic that might find expression just as easily... (1/2)

Thinking out loud about technology 

@Zuph ...in the way that it intersects with the dictates of authoritarian state socialisms, the vagaries of art & fashion, the ebb and flow of religious/ritual life, the faddishness that sooner or later afflicts just about any collection of working nerds...

Thinking out loud about technology 

@brennen Ah yeah, for sure. Lots of things about the human condition could result in a very similar state of society, I'm sure.

Honestly, no idea where I wanted to go with that littler rant. But it's sad, and I wish it weren't so.

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