Personally, I mourn videos.
I mean, good old VHS videos.
If you are revoltingly young, this is a VHS
and it's what we used to get films on
back when they were mainly documentaries
about what the dinosaurs were up to.
But look at it, it's clearly so much better than a DVD.
Yes, it's bulkier,
and yes sometimes the machine ate the tape,
but mainly it didn't.
Whereas DVDs are always getting scratched and broken
and 'skipping over damaged areas'
which I know I bloody well didn't put there.
Plus they're much harder to use-
you can't just fast forward them,
or at least you can,
but, on my machine at least,
only by awkwardly holding down
the button you use to skip forward,
which means you're pressing the forward button longer
in order to achieve a smaller movement forward,
which is counter-intuitive madness of the sort
which I don't believe it's an exaggeration to say
will surely destroy us all.
And why do we have to have them?
Because the picture quality's so much better.
Well, really, who cares?
Picture quality doesn't stop anyone enjoying anything,
if the thing is good enough.
The terrible picture quality never stopped
people finding Casablanca moving
or Steptoe and Son funny.
It didn't even stop them finding Life on Earth fascinating,
nice though I suppose it is
to be able to see every parrot's nostril
in more recent wildlife programmes.
In fact, with the rise of YouTube and smartphones,
more people are enjoying things
regardless of picture quality than ever before.
You may well be watching this on a phone,
or a tablet, or in a tiny box on a screen at work,
most of which is taken up with a huge spreadsheet
denoting how much money your company is making
Anyway if you're watching it on a wide-screen TV in HD,
it'll be being spoilt because
you'll be unable to focus on whatever I'm going on about
because you'll be so hypnotised
by the weird pattener of my erect dermis.
No, picture quality is something that only really matters
to the sort of people whose job, unluckily,
is building the machines the rest of us use.
That's the problem with machines -
they're designed by people who love them.
Geeks like new features,
general users do not.
But because few companies are inspired enough
to put a couple of luddites on the design committee,
the picture quality chasing, button loving,
gadget designers are given free reign,
and the rest of us have to put up with remote controls
studded with a couple of hundred buttons,
no more than ten per cent of which
we have the least idea how to use.
And it's also why machines now...pause.
In the old days, machines knew their place.
They couldn't do much, but what they could do,
they did as soon as you asked them to.
Hit eject on a tape cassette deck,
and the machine practically spat the cassette into your face,
so eager was it to comply with your wishes.
Tell your computer to 10 print 'hello world'
and 20 goto 10,
and that is what it would unhesitatingly if uselessly do.
Now, we submit our request to the machine,
and anxiously await its response.
Computers, DVD players, even light bulbs,
all take their own sweet time
to consider what we've asked them to do,
and decide if it fits in with their current plans for the day.
They're now on the level of a governess,
or a sergeant major during officer training -
nominally inferior to us,
but actually very able and willing
to make our lives absolute hell.
Which describes my printer to an absolute fucking tee, incidentally.
And how do we describe this process, this maddening pause?
We say the machines are 'thinking about it'.
I don't like the idea they're thinking about it.
I only ever wanted a robot slave
- the last thing I want is a robot colleague.