Thursday, May 02, 2013

Recent past?

Everyone knows that everything has speeded up. Forget the obligatory "almost".  Here is a great 1993 v 2003 visual of how our personal electronics have changed in twenty years (H/T Craig Newmark). There is nothing like a crisp visual, but even that understates the drama. Prices and quality are not shown and we know that both have improved.

Today's WSJ includes "Poles Apart: Today's Kids Line Up to Learn About Communist Past in Poland ... Best Soviet-Era Shopping Strategy Wins This Board Game ... Shopping in communist Poland was a dreary gantlet of shortages, rationing lines and—if you managed to buy something—Soviet-Bloc dreck. So Karol Madaj has turned it all into a board game called Queue. The challenge: Buy everything on your shopping list. Players wait outside empty government stores, fend off line-jumpers and haggle with black marketeers. The 40-page instruction manual warns the game may inspire 'tears of exasperation' and 'the gnashing of teeth.' Queue, introduced in 2011, paradoxically proved to be so popular that buyers had to stand in line for hours for one and a black market emerged."

This is also about a (near) twenty-year change. Polish young people have no idea of how it used to be and the older generation wants them to know. Games are better than stories from grandpa.

Time marches on and history becomes more extended, but it also becomes more crowded as the pace picks up.

The news story ends with this wonderful irony:  "Unintentionally, the game is a living example of that world because it is produced by the Polish government. The Institute of National Remembrance, a state body created in 1998 to preserve memories of Poles' struggles against Nazism and communism, gets money to produce Queue from the national budget. Overwhelming demand hasn't induced bureaucrats to fund a production increase. 'It's like under socialism,' quips Andrzej Zawistowski, the institute's director of public education, who is pushing for a market-based approach. One queue for Queue formed roughly four days before sales began, he said. The shortage of the game about shortages has even prompted angry letters from consumers for whom it brought back bad memories, says Mr. Madaj. 'Some people didn't appreciate the irony.'"