One of my catchphrases, as anyone who knows me personally can attest, is “Isn’t it great living in the future?”. Sure, I don’t have a jetpack, but I grew up early-adopting as much technology as I could afford, and being regularly bitterly disappointed with how it was half-finished, unreliable and in some cases physically dangerous to its owner.
Nowadays, however, most technology just… works, in a way I think you really need to be an engineer to truly appreciate. I get a little thrill when I fire up a new bit of technology and discover some feature of it that speaks to me of an engineer in an office somewhere thinking “Really, in order for this object to truly delight its user, it should do this thing, either when the user obviously wants it to, or possibly without even being asked.” And more to the point, a manager somewhere NOT saying “That doesn’t add to the bottom line, so we’re not doing it.”
So since I’m not bitterly disappointed on a regular basis by the technology these days, what does disappoint me? Muesli yoghurt. About thirty years ago, muesli and yoghurt were, to my working class eyes, exotic things. To combine the two? Unheard of decadence and luxury. Marks and Spencers had that vision, producing a pot of natural yoghurt adorned with a little clear tub of nuts and fruit that you could stir in. The very idea! (This was decades before Muller Fruit Corners).
I absolutely loved these things. I’m sure someone at M&S head office found out this fact, because almost as soon as I’d discovered them, they were discontinued.
What has any of this to do with anything happening in the 21st century?
Blogs and podcasts are the M&S muesli yoghurts of the 21st century. You discover one you like. You realise it’s the best thing you’ve ever come across. You indulge in an archive binge, if there’s an archive, and you check back religiously for new content at regular intervals. And for a while, your desire for new content is sated.
Then, one day it stops. Or it slows to a crawl. Or it just… disappears. And you have to move on, trying another flavour, never really recapturing the way these things were.
Roll of disappointment:
Adam&Joe’s 6Music Podcast.
Jon Richardson’s 6Music Podcast.
Tenser Said The Tensor Blog.
… and others.