New technology revives old technology

Has anyone noticed how new technology is making it possible to salvage old technology?

One example I notice is this: When sound recording formats changed, it used to mean that the old format went more or less obsolete, and the material on it was somewhat lost. Tapes replaced phonograph records, and if the material on the records was transferred to tape, you had to tolerate all the phonograph noises. Tapes gave way to CDs, and a lot of recorded material didn’t make the trip from one format to the other.

Now computer technology has made it cheap and relatively easy to transfer all kinds of old recorded material to digital format, clean out the pops, crackles and hisses, enhance the sound, and use it on a CD or in an MP3 player. A lot of very good language learning material has been resurrected and improved due to this innovation.

Isn’t it cool?

Yes Jamie, that’s really cool because new technology enables us to listen to material that was recorded decades ago and the information it contains is still valuable and up to date. For example, Earl Nightingale recorded his famous speech The Strangest Secret in 1956 and still lots of people purchase this message every day as a CD or MP3 file. I’m sure there are many more old records that have been digitalized for new generations of people to listen to…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: How much do we owe our accountant?[YSaerTTEW443543]

One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of language learning programs from the US Foreign Service Institute and the Defense Languages Institute have made the trip from phonograph records to tapes, to CDs and now to MP3s. These are terrific programs that can help someone reach a very high level of fluency just through self-study, and they exist for languages that are almost impossible to get materials for (e.g., Igbo, Mende, Luganda, etc.).

Transferring these to digital format has even made it easier to update and add to them. For example, a retired foreign service officer has now worked with a language school in Mexico to update the whole FSI Spanish course to include women, children, and a broader range of situations. In the old days of tapes, it would have taken a lot to do this, because you’d have to have people splicing in the new material by hand, even things that only last a few seconds and go into the middle of a longer exercise. Now the digital format makes this type of editing easier and more cost-effective. It also makes it possible to enhance the sound in ways that were impossible in the old days.

considering that now we’re able to save so much that would be lost to time and just natural degredation of the original materials… I think it’s fantastic!