Thursday, December 06, 2012

Last of a dying (yellow) breed

When I arrived home one morning last month and found this on the front step, I have to admit I just stood there and stared at the thing for a couple of minutes. The yellow pages were once, very long ago, a kitchen staple. In the pre-commercial-Internet era, this pub WAS the Internet, a gateway into what was out there and how to find it. We'd keep it stored alongside the white pages, and the two were frequently hauled out whenever we needed to reach out and touch someone.

But that was then. Today, changeable information no longer lingers in dog-eared annual publications. It's updated in real-time, accessed from whatever device happens to be closest at hand. Like the TV Guide before it, this chunk of a dead tree seems to have no place anymore. Yet here it was, mysteriously in front of my house.

I didn't immediately chuck it into the recycling box. For all the limitations of paper as a near-real-time medium, nothing tops a meandering browse through the low-quality newsprint. It's like a virtual cruise through parts of your community that you haven't seen in a while. Or ever. And no electronic tool will ever replicate the experience.

Something tells me we'll miss this when it's gone for good.

Your turn: Will we? Why/why not?

One more thing: Thematic. Mellow yellow. Here.


Bernie said...

I don't think we ever will!! It will be our generation that will be the ones whom have changed the most, the next, will never really know of anything different. But its our parents generation, who some still depend on such things! Some, yes, are moving with technology, my mum for example at 74. Yet, my late wife's parents are HOPELESS with technology, they don't have a mobile phone, and whilst they have a computer, it is a tool for genealogy research, nothing more!!

Personally, I will be glad to see the end of the white and yellow pages, and no longer shall trees be pulped for their production...

Unknown said...

I agree but your view is a 1st world point of view. It's interesting that Worldwide Directories and Ideas Interactivas was recently handed a $2.7B(yes, billion!)verdict against Yahoo for breach of contract. In many parts of the world, the YellowPage type hard copy directory is still the norm.

dik.garrett said...

This old school hard copy as a snapshot of the local world has much value for historical purposes. I would hate to see it disappear as the interwebs and intertubes seep ever wider and absorbing all they touch.

I am no technophobe, but I do see value in simple one function devices. I consider all hard copy printed matter to be one of the orginals in this vein. I recall reading somewhere on the web recently that the vast majority of books sold in 2012 were still 90ish % dead tree and DRM free. A random flop open to a page of your local directory you had never seen before cna be quite enlightening, if not amusing. These catalogs of the moment serve a unique view of how the local merchants saw themselves and reveal what they thought of their customers of the day. Compare a modern day version with the one from your year of birth and you will find vast changes in attitudes and technology, yet surprising similarities.

I for one vote they continue, if only in a paid for version, here in the 1st world. I do see these continuing in the 3rd world for sometime, yet.

Thanks for the blog, Mr. Levy, as you are always thoughtful and interesting.