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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eulogy for the Walkman




Though this topic's relationship to advertising or design is tenuous at best, I wanted to refer our students to a recent article about the Sony Walkman and how manufacturing of this revolutionary product is coming to a halt. It reminded me of something that has become a frequent refrain amongst the UNT communication design faculty: In an effort to elucidate some point of design learning for our students, we cite an iconic (or so we think) bit of pop culture, only to find that we are further confusing the point with our irrelevant and dated and completely out-of-touch references. So, like The Buggles' song, Video Killed the Radio Star, I was saddened to see that the iPod has succeeded in killing the Walkman portable cassette tape player, a cultural touchstone of my youth (a Wikipedia link is included for those who need to look up the definition of cassette tape). Although, in truth, I was surprised that the time of death wasn't several years ago and that the culprit wasn't the compact disc (a Wikipedia link is also included for those who need to look up the definition of compact disc).

So take a moment to travel to the not-so-distant past to remember my fallen friend. And should I ever need to mention the Walkman in one of my classes, I hope you'll offer up a nod of recognition.