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The [Online] Museum of Obsolete Objects is a cute little YouTube page with an ever-increasing selection of objects to choose from, that then brings up a pithy video narrated by a computerized voice.
posted by cashman (29 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Counterpoint from Kevin Kelly: Technologies don't go extinct.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting presentation I suppose but sort of short on information. According to one I watched morse code became "obsolete" in 2007....but no explanation as to why exactly then. And the radio receiver was "obsolete" as of 2004...again no reasons given as to why.
posted by Captain_Science at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really want to like this but it's too much cheeky style and design and not enough content. I'm guessing it's mainly meant to be a clever/humorous design project and it's not really meant to be a useful museum - unless they're trying to be a museum of how not to do an infographic.

The music and graphics are really clever and well done and all that but the long repetitive introduction parts of each film grow tiresome after the first few videos when it becomes apparent that the videos are mostly those introductions and not much content. And the content that does exist is irreverent and/or wrong and uncited.
posted by loquacious at 4:57 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dictating an "obsolete since" date, with no explanation or context, feels almost engineered to generate controversy from the outset.

But I like these anyway.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:16 PM on September 17, 2011


I agree with Loquacious. Over 50% of each video is theme song! I was all set up to diss the guy who created these, but turns out it's a big European ad agency. I went to their website and it has some really cool art for the backgrounds.
posted by scose at 5:20 PM on September 17, 2011


Flash intros belong in a museum.
posted by knave at 5:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I like the music and the style. It's not really a museum, except in the sense that museums have all become commercial establishments meant to entertain.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:35 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those left wanting for further explanation, please refer to the Dead Media Archive at NYU.
posted by The White Hat at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2011


I got as far as the abacus, but refuse to go beyond.

The rotary phone did NOT become obsolete in 1983. I'd seen in them in use in several places well into the late nineties. For real.
posted by Neekee at 6:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Warning: it took me half an hour to get that goddam intro music loop out of my head.

You have been warned. But if you catch an earworm, I have heard a cure suggested by neuropsychologists. Just mentally sing a familiar song all the way to completion with heavy emphasis on the final notes, I suggest "Happy birthday to me." They say the reason you get an earworm is that your brain can't remember the whole tune, just a bit of it, so it loops over and over in your head to try to run it to completion. Mentally going through any other song to completion shuts down all other running loops.

That being said, that was a particularly nasty earworm. It took me several tries to kill it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:24 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I still use rotary phones regularly, and Cortelco only stopped manufacturing them in 2006.

I know that at least a few of those other technologies are still being made, too, so I agree with those who are not entirely sure what the criteria for extinction is here.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:28 PM on September 17, 2011


it took me half an hour to get that goddam intro music loop out of my head.

Japanese scale very catchy!

I got as far as the abacus, but refuse to go beyond.

Which, by the way, is far from "obsolete" in Japanese education! My daughter uses them there with some frequency.

I agree with those who are not entirely sure what the criteria for extinction is here.

Well, when they declared the cassette tape extinct, they certainly didn't bother to consult any of the contemporary musicians/labels who are embracing them once again.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:35 PM on September 17, 2011


Obsolescence isn't the same thing as extinction. Even the canonically obsolete items may continue to be produced long after they have been superseded.
posted by multics at 6:48 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Annoying. Cute, but annoying. I'll just sit here next to my incandescent bulb lamp and listen to the radio instead.
posted by jrochest at 7:10 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting presentation I suppose but sort of short on information. According to one I watched morse code became "obsolete" in 2007....but no explanation as to why exactly then. And the radio receiver was "obsolete" as of 2004...again no reasons given as to why.

Yeah, the ordering of Morse and broadcast-band radio seemed especially jarring, though I couldn't make myself wade through the Flash and intro goop to hear their reasoning. The 2007 date was presumably chosen because that's when the FCC dropped the last Morse-competency requirement for amateur licensing. If we assume arguendo that Morse is obsolete, though, a much better date would be 1995— that's when the US Coast Guard stopped monitoring the CW bands and Morse passed from being a valid last-ditch emergency call method to being a hobby or historical curiosity.
posted by hattifattener at 7:15 PM on September 17, 2011


Even the canonically obsolete items may continue to be produced long after they have been superseded.
posted by multics at 6:48 PM on September 17


Eponysterical?

posted by hattifattener at 7:20 PM on September 17, 2011


::imagines life without High Fidelity, particularly this scene, feels empty inside::

The "phonograph" installment seems like such a cheapshot, 1986?. It's fine to rag on the Victrola, which became obsolete when home component systems and speakers took over. But the turntable?? especially a Technics solid-state, which only began production in the late 1970's...grargrar.

It seems futile and contrarian to present facts (indirectly) to the makers of this video, who may have been born in 1986 for all we know. They are mildly entertaining, if fact-free, but the dudes sorta disprove their own point, by recording their little ditty onto all of these dino formats, making it sounds GOOD, even if filtered through computer speakers.
posted by obscurator at 7:22 PM on September 17, 2011


I still use rotary phones regularly..

You don't live in the US, do you? Or perhaps you use these phones to receive but not dial calls? Pulse dialing is pretty much dead in the US, unless you have a pulse to DTMF converter. My local telco discontinued support for pulse dialing at least 10 years ago.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:23 PM on September 17, 2011


Where do you live, charlie don't surf? Pulse dialing still works fine for me in Seattle as of thirty seconds ago (on a land line, of course; cell phones don't use pulse or DTMF). I hadn't heard of it being discontinued; it's not as if it takes any extra equipment to support it.
posted by hattifattener at 7:42 PM on September 17, 2011


I like mine with less intro and more info.
posted by squalor at 8:08 PM on September 17, 2011


"Don't try this technique with flash drives."

I lol'd. A little.
posted by nzero at 8:10 PM on September 17, 2011


I was more intrigued by the subtle yet thorough customizations the company made to its YouTube channel page than the videos themselves, but if it's a giant ad agency behind the whole thing, I suppose that makes more sense.
posted by chrominance at 8:17 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hadn't heard of it being discontinued; it's not as if it takes any extra equipment to support it.

Hm.. I'm in Iowa, and I live about 40 miles from one of the last vintage manually operated plugboard telco switches that wasn't replaced until the mid 1990s. I mean, they were so antiquated (and proud of it) that you could go to a pay phone and the number was still posted in the antique format like EMPIRE 7-1234.

But anyway, I'm on a different switching center. I moved back here in the early 90s and I wanted to hook up my old vintage rotary dial pay phone (nicely restored in chrome plating and the coin mechanism removed) but they said they no longer supported pulse dial, I'd have to buy my own pulse to DTMF converter. At the time, that cost a hell of a lot more than a new phone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:27 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


portable radios obsolete? we had a big blackout here in San Diego last week and they came in pretty handy then... (Twitter would only update on my iPhone every 10 minutes or so ;) )
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:25 PM on September 17, 2011


Website hosted on a Finux box currently located in a private residence outside Seattle, sitting beneath the fuselage of a reassembled 747....
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 11:40 PM on September 17, 2011


I viewed that lightweight presentation while listening to FM radio. Yes, the switch to digital radio killed my radio's ability to play local TV channels, but KQAC still broadcasts as long as classical music lovers support it.
posted by Cranberry at 12:37 AM on September 18, 2011


Nice choice of title for this post!
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:37 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pulse dialing is pretty much dead in the US, unless you have a pulse to DTMF converter. My local telco discontinued support for pulse dialing at least 10 years ago.

No, I live in the US. Our local phone company doesn't officially support pulse dialing, but it's always worked wherever I've lived.

More surprisingly, when I switched to VOIP, I took them at their word that their equipment doesn't support pulse and assumed I'd need converters. But one day, I was idly messing around, and realized it was working. So I called my voice mail, and not only did it dial out, but I could retrieve and delete messages and everything.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:43 AM on September 18, 2011


See I misread this at first and thought someone had stolen my (as-yet unimplemented) idea: the Museum of Ordinary Objects.
posted by newdaddy at 6:51 AM on September 18, 2011


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