- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009

I’m confused.

Somebody left a small bag of trash on my doorstep the other day. As I looked around, I noticed that a similar bag of trash had been left on the doorstep of every other house in my neighborhood.

“That’s odd,” I thought. “Must be some kind of prank.”

But what’s confusing is that I think the bags of trash were left by … the telephone company. Honestly.

Inside the bag was a big, yellow, booklike thing. With telephone numbers on each page.

It took me a second to realize that I was looking at a phone book.

I can’t remember the last time I used a phone book. You see, my kids are grown and no longer need a booster seat at the dinner table. And ever since we got central air conditioning, there’s been no need to prop open a door in our house.

Why do telephone companies still deliver phone books to everybody? Don’t they know that nobody uses them anymore? Haven’t they heard of — the Internets ?

If you want anything, all you have to do is go to the World Wide Web and you’ll find it on somebody’s list — Craig’s list, Angie’s list, Schindler’s list.

Remember those commercials that encouraged you to use the phone book? “Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages.” (Yeah, I think that commercial was conceived by the same advertising genius who gave us “Hey, Kool-Aid!”)

Anyway, I decided to let my fingers walk through the phone book to see if it’s still useful.

I opened it and started looking up numbers, but the print was so small I needed a magnifying glass to read it. There was no other way to increase the size of the text.

The phone book had ads inside, but they didn’t move or make any sounds. No dancing babies or a computer voice saying, “Congratulations, you have just won … ”

And it didn’t have any recommendations from people I don’t know or have any reason to trust. Not one.

So I looked at this heavy, clumsy, hard-to-read, non-interactive piece of retro software and began to get annoyed as I realized that the phone company had just given me something to throw away.

Story Continues →