September 2, 2022

Fax you

A long while back a bunch of studio’s in The London used to organise a weeknight booze-up and in an analogue anticipation of a billion WhatsApp groups, invitations would be sent to specific people. By fax. And ‘Bladdered By Fax’ became a pre-internet meme (sort of -ish.)

The nostalgic memory rush that triggered this was reading Taro Kano (Japan’s minister for all things digital) is on a mission to follow-up trying to ban the fax machine (where these lovely chuntering machines are still going strong) from everyday business, with axing the floppy disk.

I had to read the article twice. I had literally no idea the things were still in use, let alone an essential, only way to to do some forms of business in the country. In nearly two thousand procedures, you need to submit it on a disk. Astonishing.

But then the US Air Force only stopped using them – “to manage the country’s nuclear arsenal” Did you get that? – in 2019. Wow.

Mind you, I guess there’s some sense that the ‘old’ formats do offer a kind of security. You can’t hack a printed page (although some did have fun with a loop of paper. Press the send button and the poor sod at the other end would arrive at work to find a ream of the same message strewn across the floor as that machine would simply keep printing the message) although I didn’t realise you can hack a fax machine – Faxploitation. Who knew – by using the ethernet connections within a network.

Having to wrestle with implications of AI, two mobiles, three workstations, multiple email accounts, all my message apps and trying to keep pace with all the other digital things, and suddenly 1990’s knocking on the door asking for its disk drive.

Simpler times and rather sobering.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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