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Oct 142012
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This series focuses on the various vestigial artifacts of our technological society that remain in occasional use but are very much out of time (see also: voting with paper, higher education, goddamn wheelchairs, etc.).

TODAY’S CANDIDATE: Public Pay Phones in the Developed World
VERDICT: Critically Endangered; Approaching Extinction in the Wild

Even in Japan
Smartphones were very late to the game in Japan, but the mobile industry as a whole, led by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, was up and running well ahead of the rest of the developed world. As such, the crusty public phones here are all the crustier, and even in a country where clean and beautiful can be the same word, decrepit & neglected pay phones are covered in six kinds of funk (see gallery below for funk close-ups).

Telecommunication Leapfrog Harbinger Thingy
These devices, along with what must be a net negative economic and infrastructural presence, are metaphor in progress; they are examples our often crawling reaction to rapid technological change that’s only getting more rapidder. Think about it: 10 years ago in the U.S. they were essential. Now, it’s a steady disappearance, and here in Japan where they remain ubiquitous but are effectively scenery, no one even cares enough to vandalize them. Where they remain, the public pay phone is basically a live-action one of these:

Your ancient hieroglyphics are make confuse, grandpa.

And okay, the thing is this: any dorky website going on about public pay phones is really commenting on their obviation by the amazingly powerful socio-technological force that is the mobile phone. Public phones shout from their corners “Hey, hey You – the world is changing really fast, man. Look at my useless ass, and recognize!”
So we do.

Really, who could possibly scorn the mobile phone? Well, head on back to March and have a read about what a genius oops I mean dipshit Andrew Keen (mobile hater) is:
Your Mobile Phone Will Murder Your Face and Andrew Keen is a Genius!

Old people, don’t be frightened by the new!
Your past is below – and it’s icky oily plastic!

Gallery: Case Study of Irrelevance & Neglect
The Funk-Caked NTT Public Phone of the New Osaka Train Station
Click images for full size:



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Geodesic Japanorama & iPhone-Based 3D Modeling Should Totally Blow Our Minds
TERMINAL ANACHRONISM: J-Vacation & Maps Made from Paper
TERMINAL ANACHRONISM: The Polling Place & Voting Booth (vulnerable)
Japanese Technology from the Future Friday! Wait… It’s Saturday Already?
Your Mobile Phone Will Murder Your Face and Andrew Keen is a Genius!