Everything New Is Old Again

I’m designing what our company calls a “ground class,” an old-fashioned instructor-led training that takes place in a classroom.  I’d been brought into the company to support its rapidly expanding distance learning catalogue, so for this course I needed to dust off the old training activities books to see what I could do to activate the participants in the mornings.

One of the icebreaker activities involved finding interesting little tidbits about what the people in the class know, or have done.  For instance:  if you found someone who answered ‘yes’ to: “Do you play the piano?” you could check that question off the list.  Other questions honed in on different unique characteristics or skills:  “Do you own cowboy boots?”   “Have you ever run a marathon?”   “Do you own a CD player?”

Waitaminute.  “Do you own a CD player?”  Wouldn’t that be everyone?  I checked the publication date of the book.  CD players became mainstream in the early 90s, and this book was published just a little bit afterwards, which meant that the activity had likely been used as CD players were becoming popular among the Gen X’ers who may or may not have been in the classes the author was facilitating.

 Images: A284 Mp3

This isn't a scale, it's a first-gen MP3 player.

Then I wondered: when did MP3 players start replacing CD players as the preferred medium for popular music?  The first MP3 player was introduced in 1998.  iPods, the ubiquitous MP3 player of this age, were introduced in 2001.  From there, it seems they, along with other forms of digital media, have taken over quite quickly.  While I own a bunch of CDs, my CD player is relegated to a dusty corner in my home office.  I more often than not play those CDs in my laptop, when not listening to Pandora, Last.FM, or the music I’ve already ripped to my hard drive.

So maybe owning a CD player is becoming an unusual thing again.  I found this interesting:  that the trends that we identify to differentiate each other tend to be cyclical — in this case moving from new technology to old.  I know this isn’t a huge discovery, just a fun one to find between the pages of a training activities book.

Still, the activity could use some honing.  I mean: “Can you hum the theme song of to ‘The Brady Bunch’?” Everyone can do that.  You’re probably doing it right now…


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