Everything old is new again, to use the well worn phrase. Many things that the consensus held would for sure be the key to the future – remember the Segway anyone? Or Google Glass? Simply petered out and faded into history, unremembered and unmourned.

Things that were long promised – jetpacks, hoverboards, hyperloop trains, space elevators, so on and so forth – are conspicuous by their absence, in many cases the material, engineering or safety issues being the main source of the failure.

As though to pour salt in the seeping, infected wound, things that were thought long dead, never to return, have mounted a comeback to the culture. The old serving as an alternative to the young and uninitiated.

Spin me right round

Long-play records have long been due a comeback. Not as a matter of personal opinion, but market inevitability. C.D.s still exist to be sure, but so do oil lamps and when it comes to actual sales, MP3s and vinyl records are the highest selling formats.


It is to the point that bands such as The White Stripes, Florence and The Machine and Katatonia, Counting Crows and Nirvana are releasing or re-releasing albums on vinyl, which are being sold at big box retailers such as Best Buy.

Sunrise, a Toronto-based record and pop-culture store specializing in vinyl records and cardboard and plastic board games, has bought out the failing HMV chain. Replacing 70 locations across Canada.

Jack White of the White Stripes, and well known anachronism fancier, is getting in on the boom, starting his own pressing plant combining the new and the old, utilizing the latest in digital mechanization to press vinyl records.

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One of the mediums slated for extinction at the beginning of the digital age, along with traditional television and broadcast radio, is also one of the oldest. The printed word.

Dating back to the invention of movable type in 1450, the printed page is one of the oldest forms of human expression. Surpassed only by handwritten documents, speaking, singing and pantomime. They have always been there, even if they were unappreciated at the time.

Far from a new invention, the idea of books on the computer go back through Internet history to the green-screens and literal floppy-disks of the proto-web in the late-1980s. Desktops being a tad too cumbersome to take on the bus or down to the park, printed books retained their place at the top of the literary tree.

It was not until the advent of the ‘e-reader’ in the early part of the 21st century, that the imminent death of the printed book was declared and certain. Or at least assumed. And you know what happens when you assume.

According to recent sales figures, as reported by grand old news sources, the sales of print books has surpassed that of e-readers such as the Kindle from Amazon and the open-platform Kobo put out by retailer Chapters or ebook downloads.

The main reason people gave when asked why they prefer print books over their digital brethren was ‘the feel’.

As the late Science Fiction author Douglas Adams is famous for saying: “A book is the right size to be a book. They’re solar-powered. If you drop them, they keep on being a book. You can find your place in microseconds. Books are really good at being books and no matter what happens books will survive.”

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.


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