Old Media Never Go Away

The hard times of a new-born media

The life of a media is not an easy one. Often born in a haze of mistrust and concern, every young media became aware since its first years that the toughest bit has yet to come. When it comes to innovations at their earliest stages of development – no matter whether we are dealing with the latest state-of-the-art music reproducing device or CMOS sensor cameras – they know they just can’t help facing the troubles and disbeliefs which come along with their increasing popularity. And then, as it also happens to the most talented people, they end up being mourned when they are gone. But…

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed

Well, approximately. New media do are created at some point, but – according to the previous statement – eventually they go through a transformation process which may result in a lot of different outcomes. As Ken said, let’s just think of all those items which ceased to be a popular media and became an icon instead. Let’s think of all the vocabulary which new media borrow from the old ones. For instance, emails today are way more popular than traditional mail, but we still send them and put them into folders. And the icon which represent emails is – guess what? – an envelope.

Another outstanding example of people’s poor inclination to leave the past behind is Hipstamatic’s interface. Today we don’t event need proper cameras to be designed as analogue cameras used to be since there is no longer a film inside but a sensor, so what’s the point of having a nice interface which totally looks like the digital version of an old lomo camera on our iPhone 5? Do we really need that square viewfinder and that tiny light which tells us that our photos are being developed? Yes, because we are familiar with that, we feel more comfortable. And what about those digital magazines where pages are designed as if you could actually turn them? Humankind has been bound for centuries to the physical limits of paper and now that we got “finally” rid of it we still keep on designing digital magazines with turning pages!

Moreover, designers are nostalgic individuals. We collect wood type letterforms, prints, old polaroid films. We struggle to prevent tools such as the Linotype machine to sink into oblivion and we still enjoy learning about the traditional techniques related to printing or bookbinding, while at the same time we keep ourselves upgraded with the latest technological tools and materials around. So, who better than us should be able to take the most out of both old and new media without being carried away either by an over enthusiasm towards the novelty or a blind longing for the past?

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