When you see movies about the future, almost every detail is depicted as being new and different. When it comes to real life technological advances, I see a very different trend. In a lot of cases, I think people want to embrace the shiny, new devices and tools. But they still want to keep one old shoe anchored in the past.
When I got my first iPhone, I started to search around the web in an effort to find a ringtone that sounded like the phone I had in my house when I was growing up. Once I installed it, I had a new smartphone with a sound that connected me to the same phone I used to call my friends as a kid. When that old phone used to ring, my cat would run over, jump onto the counter and sit next to it until one of us answered.
I want technological advances. But I want them to allow me to remain connected to my sense memories — the me I was without the new phone.
Today, I notice that almost every person I know – at least in my cohort – has the exact same ringtone. New device, old sound.
People in my generation may have an unconscious fear that technological advances are overwhelming them. My personalities on Facebook and Twitter are not quite the same as my personality in real life. And there is something scary about that. Using products that maintain a connection to my past gives me a reassurance that the technology I use is an extension of the old me, not a replacement.
The Kindle just became the best-selling item in Amazon history. The screen mimics paper, the pages are turned just like an old book.
My digital camera looks a whole like the one I had when I still used film.
Instagram photos look just like old Polaroid shots.
I constantly see forward-thinking technologists who have retro stickers on their phones and laptops.
Maybe the most comfortable and ultimately successful technological advances are the ones that have an umbilical cord back to what came before.