It used to be that we compared the way we lived our lives to our parents’. Now doing that is nonsense. It is better to try and see how you compare to your own life 10 years ago.
So how different is my life today compared to 1999?
– No TV: Most of my entertainment in 1999 still came from the good old tube. I used to pay extra for satellite service so I could watch some Brazilian soccer. I followed TV sitcoms religiously, and even though we already got a lot of news through the internet at that time, I still watched TV for the nightly news almost every day. Nowadays I never watch TV. The one exception is live sports games that are on cable TV. International sports (like Brazilian football) are usually streamed by sites like JustinTV. I *never* watch news on TV. I still browse some big media sites (MSNBC, Fox News, CNN) but I don’t even know which channel number they are on cable. For movies, Sitcoms and everything else I either use Netflix (both the mail delivered DVDs but increasingly their online streaming service) or some other similar website (I bought Battlestar Galactica from Amazon’s Unbox and the quality was great). Ah, and there is YouTube too. It is there that I watch Brazilian shows (like Panico – sorry, I know) and other shorter videos (like movie previews). By the way, I still go to the movies like I did before. Maybe even more. The overall experience of watching a new release on a giant screen eating bad popcorn still rules.
– No land line: I use my cell phone for everything. Text messages, two-way radio, local and international calls. I decided to do pre-paid on my cell phone because of all the wrong bills and mischievous details phone companies add to their contracts. I only have a land line still because I use it for long work conference calls, but people outside my work don’t even know my home number.
– Unlimited music and talk radio: I have a Zune pass, so I can listen to whatever music I want without limits. No more CD players, radios or anything like that. I have one Zune player which I use when I am exercising, driving or working. Also, all talk radio comes through the internet. I usually listen to Dennis Miller in the morning and Medved in the afternoons. But sometimes I go and download podcasts and leave it on for hours pretty much like old radio (I love Leo Laporte).
– Back to the bookstore: Funny how this trend kind of went backwards. I was shopping at Amazon constantly until a few years ago, when Barnes and Noble started with a strong online campaign to win back customers. They got me. I get so many coupons and discounts that now going to a bookstore is worthwhile again. Especially because they have the environment advantage, with all the books on display and the good coffee shop next door. I still buy at Amazon when I am looking for a hard to find book (or when my fridge filter needs to be replaced!) but 95% I am buying BN. Maybe this is just my old 1989 self that doesn’t want to die but in any case that is what I am doing now.
– Working globally: In 1999 I was working for a large Telecom company. We had customers all over the world and co-workers from all over the world. But now things are a much more wide spread. I have daily meetings with people that are all over the US, my co-workers are many times in different time zones, and I would say 95% of my job is done via email. When email is down I am dead in the water. Specialization is also increasing big time. Today my role is so particularly detailed that I don’t think one could easily replace me without a few months of ramp up. I don’t even know if my 1999 self would understand right away how complex my current work is. I am also working longer hours than I did before, but that might be a consequence of my career stage more than any technology change.
– Blog Schmog: I wonder what my 1999 self would think of blogs. A funny word probably. I’d say that more than half of my personal time online (which is troublesome high my wife would say) is spent on blogs, about 10% writing my own and 90% reading other people’s blogs.
It is funny to think that also 10 years ago the whole idea of broadband internet (which seems to be the catalyst of most of these changes) was just starting to grow. I wonder if my 1999 self imagined that things would turn out the way they did.
And how about 2019? What will I be doing then? Will we have blogs? Will email be a thing of the past? Will I still be shopping at brick-and-mortar bookstores and going to movie theaters?
Wait and see I guess.