Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By

Remember when dialing a telephone number actually required you to turn a dial? Or when typing a letter meant using a typewriter? Finding answers used to mean you needed a set of encyclopedias.

And it wasn't so long ago that John Cusack serenaded his girlfriend in the movie "Say Anything" with his boom box. Just over 20 years later, and now kids get their music from devices about the size of an old cassette tape.

But it's not just that we've moved on from outdated technology -- it's that we're moving on faster than ever.

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What's Old Is So ... Old

Anna Jane Grossman has cataloged the mounting number of items that are going the way of the Dodo in her book, "Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By."

"What appealed to me about this idea from the very beginning is that I'm still relatively young," said Grossman. "I'm 30 years old, and I feel already that time is just going so quickly and everything is very different than it was. Ten years ago, I didn't have a cell phone, I don't think I had a laptop, and I still listened to a Walkman. All of those things now seem like ancient history."

Obsolete: What Will We Miss? Anything?

We met up with Grossman at the place where things make one of their last stops before becoming ancient history: the Salvation Army.

"It's like these little elves that are breathing the last bit of life into objects that would otherwise go in the dumpster," Grossman said.

Dumpsters are filling with VHS tapes, Polaroid cameras and an array of electronics from just a few years ago. Grossman believes even books are on their way out.

What about the whole sensation of reading and getting to the next page?

"It's special and I'm certainly I'm going to miss it," said Grossman. "But I wonder if kids who are growing up without that will miss it, because they never knew it to begin with."

Obsolete: A One-Way Track

Beyond the tangible, those kids may also lose out on ever having real privacy. Thanks to the Internet, none of us is really anonymous... and the surprise of a blind date?

Yup, that's obsolete, too.

"You could figure out everything you want to know about the person, practically, and see their baby pictures," said Grossman with a laugh. "It's like, at what point does it stop? And I think that makes us have to think of new ways to be romantic, almost."

Romance isn't dead -- but is anyone writing love letters anymore?

"I would say we're losing a certain sense of personal touch, and a certain sense of real, human connection," Grossman said.

Moving on to the next big thing may have some unintended consequences.

"It makes me wonder how people are going to develop differently," Grossman said. "If we don't talk on phones for a long time like we used to, is that going to change how we have conversations in general? Is this going to change how people play and problem-solve, now that people are doing puzzles on the computer and not on the floor? Probably -- it's too early to tell how it's going to change us."

Progress isn't new. Since man found fire, he's been trying to make things better, bigger, stronger. But the pace of change today is faster than ever. All that any of us can do is try to keep up.

"We can't stop it, you know," said Grossman. "This train only moves in one direction and we're on it for the long haul."

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