graphic for The 2019 Index of Intelligent Technology in HR Tech

 

8 Track Tapes

On April 23, 2013, in Big Data, HR Technology, Industry Analysis, Mobile Technology, by John Sumser

Every time I get the sense that there's a consensus about the future of anything, I get itchy.

Every time I get the sense that there’s a consensus about the future of anything, I get itchy.

8 Track Tapes

I’m allergic to certainty. Every time I get the sense that there’s a consensus about the future of anything, I get itchy.

These days, the level of certainty about the future of social media and technology is astonishing. Devices will get smaller and smaller. Tablets will be the next phase. Facebook, Twitter and Google are the face of the new epoch. Everyone needs a mobile offering because everything is going mobile.

It sounds pretty unlikely to me.

I began to wonder, what if tablets are just the eight track tapes of our times. Today, looking back, 8 tracks look gangly and awkward. Yet, they were a necessary step in the movement from LP Recordings to pure digital media.

The real beginnings of mobile communications can be traced to the 8 track tape. Until their invention in the mid sixties (and popularization in the 70s), the only sound available in an automobile came from broadcast radio. The 8 Track made it possible to choose the music you listened to.

Unlike LP Records, which continue to be modestly viable 85 years into their existence, 8 Tracks were the first instance of a disposable life cycle in communications devices. By the time they were in the market for a decade, the next thing, the cassette tape, was on its way to market dominance.

8 Tracks had a host of problems that one simply accepted in order to have music portability. They wore out. They got misaligned. They skipped when you hit a bump. They were awkward and hard to store.

What followed the casette tape was a combination of the CD and a number of silly attempts to keep the consumer recording on blank tape. The CD was followed by something that’s not really a thing. Pure digital media-less recordings.

The same evolution is likely for all that we know about digital. In technology, the next thing resembles the last thing until it simply doesn’t any more. Mobile resembles the desktop in an amazing number of ways.

Is mobile the 8 track of our time?

graphic for The 2019 Index of Intelligent Technology in HR


 
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