BlackBerry outage forces The Secret Marketer to remember the good old days

I’ve had a blissfully quiet week but I guess that is the joy of being a BlackBerry owner. Amazing what a few days without wireless can do for the mind, body and soul.

After the initial feeling of losing a limb and the nervous twitching from continuously checking the little red message light that refused to flash, I soon rediscovered my inner calm. Better still, I relearned how to call people on the phone, some of whom I haven’t had a real conversation with for years. It really is good to talk.

Thanks to BlackBerry I relearned how to call people on the phone. It really is good to talk

It took me back to my first mobile phone. Mine was actually called a car phone back then – big and chunky and very good for making phone calls in the car. The problem with today’s devices is that they are far too smart for their own good. They lack a single minded proposition.

Email was, of course, something that only took place in the office and at your own workstation. We used Lotus Notes and I remember the sense of deep inner sadness and regret when we were migrated to something new and awkward called Outlook. And don’t get me started on moving from Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets to Excel. Not a happy time.

And if I needed to urgently sign off artwork, there was the legendary facsimile machine. I’ve spent many happy hours standing at that machine. Progress was slow and transmission not always guaranteed; it was important to wait for the final confirmation print-out to know your job was done. Presentations have always been a big part of my marketing life, but in those days I was forced to prepare way in advance. I couldn’t rely on turning up with a laptop that I had been updating on the train. For posh presentations, I would use acetates on an overhead projector. I used to hand-write them but soon we were able to print out a presentation and then photocopy it onto acetates. That was a real technological breakthrough.

The best thing with presenting from acetates was the sense of drama as you could hide your next bullet point by covering it with a piece of paper. The reveal has never been the same on PowerPoint. You could also scribble handwritten updates onto your slides and then rub them away with tissue paper if you wanted to change your pitch half-way through.

Not forgetting, of course, the ad agencies always turning up with those legendary BETA tapes. Happy days…

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