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Tempus edax rerum.

Time devours everything, nothing lasts forever. Much has been said about this and in many ways it becomes a philosophical rabbit hole. I want to take you down another sort of philosophical rabbit hole.

When a new technology comes along, it will often render another technology (or technologies), obsolete. In the past, I would have assumed that the old tech simply dies out and ceases to exist. That probably happens in some cases. What has impressed me lately is how often the older, supplanted, technology continues to be mastered by a segment of society. In some cases these archaic skills and/or products may even experience a small resurgence in popularity due to the internet. Let me try and give a few examples.

Recording technology has changed a lot during my lifetime. Current state of the art at time of this writing is mostly digital and comes in several different formats but I have personally experienced vinyl records in the form of 78 RPM, 45 RPM, 33 1/3 RPM (all at the same time), also reel to reel tape, cassette tape and 8-track tape. Then came CD's. It will come as no surprise to many readers that vinyl LP's (33.3 RPM, of course) are quite popular with some collectors. At a niece's wedding I attended recently, the DJ/sound guy played vinyl LP cuts almost exclusively throughout the entire weekend, even though digital music was readily available. The music sounded great!

Another example I've encountered that may be a bit less well known is vacuum tubes. If you are old enough you may remember these. They were in most radios and televisions when I was first old enough to notice such things. I remember going with "Daddy" (actually a stepfather although I didn't know it at the time...but that's another story) to the grocery store and him taking a bag of vacuum tubes. The store had a tube tester with a bunch of different sockets that shoppers could use free of charge. Once the faulty tube was identified the store would love to sell you a replacement. The vacuum tube was superseded by the transistor and then further by the I.C. The point is, there are still people making vacuum tubes. It is not a force in the marketplace to be reckoned with, but the technology is still with us.

One final example (there are too many to list here), in my town there is a group that meets every Thursday afternoon to learn blacksmithing. The class is free if you bring the proper safety gear and a desire to learn.

There's no question that new technology marginalizes the older technologies it replaces. In many cases, though, the skill and knowledge embodied in what has been replaced is being carried forward by a select few. We keep these alive as novelty crafts. Time may indeed devour everything but it will take...time.

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