As we’ve prepared to launch this blog, David and I have devoted much discussion to what to call it. Why “Obsolescing?” And does it adequately convey what this blog is about?
“Waning Technology” is the phrase I’ve long used to describe my interest in how we view technologies as they’re being usurped or superseded. Somehow that didn’t seem catchy enough.
“Retro” had promise as a prefix (as in “retro-fitting”), but as an adjective it seems so style-focused. The word already has huge quotation marks hovering over it. I see a kind of packaged nostalgia — I think of “Grease” and “Happy Days” and imitation diners, re-creations of eras that never existed in the first place. What word shows we’re not so much interested in indulging in nostalgia as in investigating how nostalgia works?
“Adaptive reuse” is a term borrowed from architecture that a lot of artists use who tinker in, rework, reinterpret outmoded equipment and technologies. That is one aspect of what we’re collecting here. Again, it doesn’t cover the entire territory.
So we come to
|1.||becoming obsolete; passing out of use, as a word: an obsolescent term.|
|2.||becoming outdated or outmoded, as machinery or weapons.|
|3.||Biology. gradually disappearing or imperfectly developed, as vestigial organs.|
Obsolescent is one of those wonderful “escent” nouns, that’s really an active gerund, that “escence” like “ing” describing a changing process rather than a fixed state (e.g. crescent = growing; adolescent = growing up; senescent= growing old ).
escent-es”cent\ [From the ending -escens, -entis, of the p. pr. of inchoative verbs in Latin.] A suffix signifying beginning, beginning to be; as, adolescent, effervescent, etc.
And this is what we’re interested in: what happens to an objects, tools, technologies as they fall into disuse. We aim to collect examples, to muse, to argue, to hypothesize — to parse the particular characteristics of the state of obsolescence.
And we have a name: Obsolescing — adding that “ing” to stress the action implicit in the word: passing out of use means passing into something else.