Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Technology of the Living Dead

As in: technologies that are dead but haven't yet realized it. Cracked does it again with 6 Technologies That Don't Know They're Dead. Although written for humor, as usual, sometimes their articles contain some real information, and this is one of them. I thought the entry on phone books (photo above) was especially profound. Why are they still around?
Since you've probably never opened one, you may not realize that phone books are chock full of so many ads that they generated $13.9 billion last year. That sort of makes sense when you realize these ads are being force fed to every single household in America, like giant bricks of spam just appearing on your porch once a year. The only difference is you can click out of a pop up ad. Phone books weigh 10 lbs and have to be disposed of in special ways, to avoid becoming even more than 30% of your local landfill. Yes, it would appear that Satan works in advertising, and he's damn good at what he does.
Here's a little tidbit of personal trivia for you. Since we don't live actually in San Antonio, we don't get San Antonio phone books. But we, or my wife really, and some other people we know can really use S.A. phone books. So every year when they come out, I just pick them up from in front of vacant houses. Every house gets a phone book, no matter if someone lives in it or not, no matter if it has a phone in it or not, no matter if it's been condemned and is halfway demolished or not. I once saw a house that was in the process of being moved. Half of the house was already gone, half was still sitting there. They threw a phone book in the driveway anyway. (No kidding. My previous job, when I had to work on the south side a lot. I stood right there and watched them do it). In fact, many houses that do have people in them never pick up their phone book. It just rots in the driveway until somebody decides to toss it next to the garbage can on trash day. (P.S. I know which houses are really vacant because that's part of my job).

I almost never open a phone book. I especially hate looking for something in the Yellow Pages, because whatever I happen to be looking for is always nearly impossible to find. I usually have to hunt under 7 or 8 different categories before I find where they've pigeon-holed it. When I want to use the Yellow Pages, I just go to Yahoo.

I also thought this was a great quote:
How many of you read an actual newspaper this morning? Yeah, didn't think so. If you're reading this you know how to use the internet, and if you know how to use the internet then you have no reason in the world to read a newspaper unless you're sitting in the dark for refusing to pay your electricity bill. In that case, stop reading this and go get a job.
Several years ago a co-worker of mine at the time told me about how the S.A. Express-News had called him to try and get him to subscribe. He had two phone lines at the time: one for regular phone use and one for his internet connection. So he was online while talking with the solicitor. Every single thing they told him he could get from the newspaper, he just did a search for and found it online. And this had to be at least 8 years ago. He said the lady finally, sounding kind of desperate, said, "Well, you can get coupons in the newspaper!" So he typed in "coupons," and poof, there they were. Coupons ready to be printed out on his own home printer and taken to the store. He told her that. She hung up without saying another word.

Anyway, the Cracked article is some pretty good reading. Funny, too.


  1. You speak the truth. I cleaned out my hall closet and found that I had 8 years of phonebooks from 2 different companies. When stacked they were as tall as I was.

    So I took them to my dad's house and used them to test my reloads.

    .44 mag 240g SWC with 16 grains of bluedot will go through 6 wet phonebooks. The same load out of a 16 inch carbine barrel will go through 8

    Then they went on the brushpile.

  2. I do the same as Hammer; the phone books go into empty Tide boxes and are used as targets to test bullet penetration.

  3. Some of your "facts" are way off.

    First, according to the EPA, print Yellow Pages only take up some .3% of the landfill space, not the 30% number you have banter about. Newspaper run closer to 4% and all your direct mail stuff is around 2+%

    Second, the reason those books generated some $14 billion advertising revenue is that they make the phone ring for companies that advertise in them -- nearly 13 BILLION references last year.

    As you said, you do use the books. so you know how chock full of information they are. which is why they weight 10 lbs each...

  4. Yeah, well, they aren't my facts. I was just linking to the article. Take it or leave it, it doesn't matter to me.

  5. For trying to find a local business, the dead tree yellow pages are just waaaay better than going online. There are still too many businesses that don't have web pages or are nothing more than a name and number in the online listings.

    You can tell a lot about a company from their YP ad, that the online listing does not give you.

    Yes, a lot of businesses are too stupid/cheap to list themselves under multiple categories. Yes, the folks making the books have some odd ideas of what the categories should be in the first place (don't you just hate finding what you think the right category should be only to be told to "see blah-blah"?) and lead you around in circles. The online listings do that also, to an extent.

    If you know the name of the company, use the white pages to look them up. I get really irritated at folks that try to find the right category in the YP and then go looking through the category for the phone number of a company that's listed in a nice alphabetical order in the white pages.

  6. Sorry Gungeek, but I wasn't clear when I said I go to Yahoo. I don't just search for businesses and expect them all to have websites. I meant that I use Yahoo Yellow Pages. In my experience, they are more up-to-date than paper yellow pages, they include a link to a map so you can see where the place is, and if the business does have a website, there's a link to that as well. I've wasted too much time using paper yellow pages in the past. If I lose internet access I suppose I'll have to use them, but as things are, I have no use for them at all.