I’ve been around computers and technology for as long as I can remember. I cut my teeth on the Apple Color Computer II, then the TRS-80 (Trash80) from Radio Shack. I recall BASIC and DOS, played Pong, the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sony Playstation and the XBOX-360. I’ve fond memories of dialing into a friends BBS for text based interactions long before there was such a thing as ‘Instant Messaging’ (or ‘text messaging’), and not so fond memories of dialing into something called ‘AOL’ (to get a busy signal all day and night) followed fairly quickly by the bliss that is ‘broadband’. I even remember sticking my finger into a plastic circle on a rotary phone in order to ‘dial’ it, and the heady sensation of the first time I ‘beamed’ a contact from my Palm Phone to a friends Palm Phone using LASERS (pew, pew).
In every instance, I saw technology grow and evolve, become something different, better, more advanced and, in most cases – more effective and useful. As something evolved, I didn’t hang onto the past, I embraced the future. I haven’t had a ‘land line’ phone in nearly a decade, for example. So many pieces of what were, at their time, technological marvels, have been tossed upon the midden heap throughout my lifetime and have simply become ‘worthless’ technology to me (and so many others) now.
For example – the fax machine (I realize that you may not consider these to be ‘worthless’ just yet but, read on).
The most revolutionary contraption of its day, the fax machine let people send information to other people instantly (more or less) that they would have normally sent via mail; letters, purchase orders – even marketing materials and fliers. I remember fax machines that v – e – r – y – s – l – o – w – l – y – c – r – a – w – l – e – d – a – l – o – n – g – a – s – t – h – e – y – s – c – a – n – n – e – d – a – d – o – c – u – m – e – n – t, and onesthatzippedrightthroughsofastyou’dmissitifyoublinked.
But, to be honest with you, I haven’t actively used a fax number since the late 90’s. I had one of those EFax numbers for a while (still do for work), but I rarely used it and just let it go away (and I rarely use the work efax either). Why? Well, because technology evolved again.
Along came the PDF. With the PDF or portable document format from Adobe, just about everything that someone could possible want to fax to me, can be sent vial email and PDF. It especially became viable when other companies started coming up with their own versions of ways to CREATE PDF’s – like the ability to save any document on a Mac as a PDF, or push a button in an Office doc and create a PDF – that sort of thing. Once you didn’t have to have anything particularly fancy to create one, PDF’s became the thing.
Which is why I am shocked when I talk to people who want things faxed to them or that they want to fax something to me or that we should fax together as if faxing is the pinnacle of technological achievement, the end all, be all of technological nirvana.
It feels like going back to DOS to me. (I once walked uphill, in the snow, barefoot, across broken glass to get to school… or something, and you try to tell the kids today…)
“Wait – Fax? Seriously? You want to -fax- something to me? Um…”
With most people (I think), email has replaced the fax (right?), an email does just fine (Right?!). Email is simple enough (you can get one in a snap). Someone sends you an email and it can come to your phone or your laptop or your desktop or wherever you want it to show up. You’re not tied to a desk and a land line when you use email versus a fax and really, it’s not an additional charge – with a fax machine, you have an extra phone bill and who wants that?! It seems like a no brainer to me.
But then, there are people who are not so enamored of emails and PDF’s as I am. We’ll call them ‘Faxiophiles’.
Faxiophiles love their fax machines and their steno machines and their rotary phones and their #2, non-mechanical pencils because they are easy; plug them into power and a phone line and, for 99.9% of the machines out there, they are good to go (and the average #2 pencil just needs to be sharpened…). For the Faxiophile, email is the devils work (Or George Bush. Or Bill Clinton – depends on which side of the aisle you prefer). You have to ‘pop things’ with email, and figure out ‘maps’ and there are passwords and web things and and and – it’s just all so difficult and evil like Republicans or Democrats (again – whichever aisle…)!
I feel the pain of the Faxiophile, I really do. They like their world to be very simple, very easy, very black and white – square peg in the square hole. You need something typed up? Use a typewriter – no one has ever stolen your identity on a typewriter before. You need to make a phone call? That’s what that thing on the wall with the tangled up cord and the big buttons is for – never given -anyone- cancer, nor caused a car accident nor been banned by a local or state government. And when you need to communicate something that’s been written out, you send a fax.
Faxiophiles. They’re out there.