Home Internet As technology simplifies, does communication worsen in a sense?

As technology simplifies, does communication worsen in a sense?

Gilmour stands for the national anthem prior to a Dec. 22 hockey game against visiting University. (Brian Fisher – For The News-Herald)

There is a clip on YouTube of a 1994 “Today” segment before the internet took off.

Bryant Gumbel expressed to then co-host Katie Couric how he was confused by the “@” in an email address.

“The little mark with the ‘a,’ and then the ring around it,” Gumbel said, as the power of retrospect nearly 30 years later makes us all chuckle. “Katie said she thought it was ‘about,’ but I’ve never heard it said. I’ve seen the mark, but never heard it said. And then it sounded stupid when I said it.

“I mean, what is internet anyway?”

The clip has become so popular Gumbel and Couric were reunited for a Super Bowl car commercial based off the premise a few years ago.

Naturally, as technology evolves, the manner in which we communicate does and should, too.

It makes life better and easier for all of us.

But when long-used avenues of communication end, it is worth a moment to reflect upon it.

Over the holidays, The News-Herald’s sports department fax machine was discontinued after around 30 years or so. In its last incarnation, faxes had become automated into a PDF that would wind up in an inbox.

Yes, there were a few diligent, well-meaning people still using that avenue to submit information.

Let’s be clear, before this gets into “OK, boomer” territory: Of course we’re all better off with more instantaneous, efficient forms of reporting information such as taking a picture of a basketball scorebook and attaching it to an email.

But it is striking to pause and reflect on how things have evolved, and whether we communicate “better” as a result of it.

When I first started at The News-Herald as a sports clerk in 1999, it could be argued the fax machine was nearly as important to everyday life in the department as phones being in service.

It’s kind of scary now to think about how many acres of forest were wiped out by that fax machine and the paper it used.

The way we compiled a master coverage area high school sports schedule at the start of a season was to wait for athletic directors to send us their schedules, page by page, via fax. The vision of that old ScheduleStar format with the school’s name, address and AD in the header and line upon line of date, opponent and time sticks with me.

Preview forms? All-star nominations? Box score information?

A lot of it came via fax.

The faxed schedule concept makes me laugh in part today because of irony. As we discussed in the fall, since there’s statewide confusion over whether to use DragonFly, Arbiter Live or both for scheduling, no one seems to know what to do. So perhaps we haven’t advanced as far as we’d like.

Why has it been so difficult to have a consistent HS sports schedule interface? | Opinion

Really, the phone call has also gone the way of the fax, left in the pile with discarded VCRs and DVD players. We’ve worked remotely since the pandemic, so it’s been years even today since any of us picked up a phone and had someone on the other end reporting a score after a game. All scores are reported today by email.

(Cheap plug for [email protected] for all varsity News-Herald coverage area events by 10 p.m. nightly for inclusion.)

It harkens me to a time with familiar voices on the other end of the phone, including people who have left us since such as Pam Crysler, Jim Grinstead and Gary Salzinger, providing that information on their team’s behalf.

Whether it was fax or phone, you also can’t help but think of it not being used well.

Going too fast. Going too slow. Not being prepared. Or like the time a baseball coach, in an era when we would accept Major League Baseball-style “long” boxes with batting and pitching lines for high school games, thought it would be adorable to have their 8-year-old report a doubleheader one Saturday. It took 45 minutes.

Again, no “OK, boomer” here.

I vastly prefer looking at a scorebook picture or an email on my own time and at my own pace. Looking at a scheduling website — if Ohio could get its act together, for crying out loud — is preferable to sifting through page after page of varsity schedules by fax.

But there’s also that sense that maybe, as archaic forms of communication have met their understandable demise, some ability to communicate erodes.

As we’ve discussed, having MaxPreps, Hudl, the now-defunct Digital Scout and more were and are all well and good … provided it’s even used at all.

It is noticeable how much more difficult it has become to find statistics or a roster. Fewer teams follow through on inputting games into a website or submitting the information to the local media than ever before.

I’d venture to say as many as 50% fewer of our coverage area high school football teams assemble statistics in real time postgame. Many opt to still do so off a game recording.

Long ago as a 90s kid, we were just like Gumbel and Couric.

Some of my favorite high school memories were sitting in the third-floor computer room at the old Harvey building in the mid-to-late 90s — on down time, of course — and perusing IRC, AOL IM … oh, and the Boston.com chat rooms. If you know, you know.

That, pagers, Discmans, fax machines … it was fairly cutting edge.

Then something easier came along, and it met its shelflife end. As it should.

It’s just funny, though, that as technology has gotten easier, as we face a day and age with artificial intelligence and so much more that can be automated, that we have lost some of the ability to communicate like when technology was more archaic.

It should be the opposite.

Obviously, we won’t have any scenes like “Office Space” with old technology.

But when that News-Herald sports fax was shut down, it did register.

We got a lot of mileage out of that thing.

Now if only when technology evolves, everyone’s ability to interact evolves with it as well.



Denial of responsibility! TechCodex is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
DMCA compliant image

Leave a Comment