It's the end of the year, the time when we take stock of what we've gained and lost, and what we expect (or hope) to gain and lose in the months ahead.
When it comes to technology, the gains and losses go pretty much hand in hand. We get new features and devices, and we set down old ones to collect dust on a shelf. Sometimes, a new gadget comes along and we can't ditch the old one soon enough, but often, technologies disrupt conventions, institutions, and other technologies that mean something to us and that we don't want to send off. We can feel change coming, and we don't want it. Sometimes, our fears are overblown, but other times the disruption is real and permanent, such as the effect literacy had on society (for a more extensive discussion, see chapter two of James Gleick's The Information).
Today, with Kindles and iPads and mobile phones changing so much of how we go about our business, there are more than a couple of things we fear are nearing the ends of their shelf life. Here's a quick survey of what people are worried will become obsolete in the years ahead.
Books take the number-one spot because they occupy the exact center of the Venn diagram at issue here -- they are both much beloved and directly threatened by new inventions. There's ample writing on whether books really will become obsolete, what it would mean if they did, and, the money question (literally), what will become of the publishing industry.