IT and social networking replacing old jobs?
November 22, 2011 9:52 AM   Subscribe

What jobs/businesses have been negatively affected by the rise of information technology and social networking?

We were having a discussion on which jobs or businesses have been negatively affected by information technology.

We came up with a short list:
newspapers (web provides faster news)
book stores (Amazon over Borders)
travel agencies (we can do it ourselves on the net)
post office (email has reduced paper mail)

Can you think of other examples?

(I am not a Luddite. I know technology creates jobs, too. I am just interested in this aspect of what tech has replaced.)

posted by gnossos to Society & Culture (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Cashiers at the grocery store ( Self-checkout )
Call center operators ( Say "Yes" / "No" Menu Trees )
posted by jasondigitized at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2011

My workplace used to have many more file clerks and typists.
posted by Jahaza at 9:55 AM on November 22, 2011

Video/DVD stores
posted by Defying Gravity at 9:58 AM on November 22, 2011

I think I have to disagree with the inclusion of travel agencies. While the brick-and-mortar storefront has been mortally wounded, we certainly don't "do it ourselves" on the net, rather we go through travel agencies and travel agency compilers. Expedia, for example, is a travel agency.
posted by macrowave at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stockbrokers. When you can trade stock for $7/trade online, it seems really silly to call up "your broker" and pay hundreds more.
posted by xil at 10:03 AM on November 22, 2011

I don't know if self-checkout is really a good example - maybe it's different in other parts of the country or world, but the self-checkout machines at my local grocery are such a PITA to use that they don't seem to make much of a dent in the regular lines.

What about 411/Information? I can't imagine that as many people call 411 as they used to (especially at $1.25 a pop).

Also I think probably that phone book ad revenue has gone way down.
posted by radioamy at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2011

Netflix has killed off most video rental stores
posted by radioamy at 10:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yellowpages / Phone Books
posted by Blake at 10:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rolodex, filofax, etc.
posted by suncoursing at 10:10 AM on November 22, 2011

Travel agencies. Most of the remaining successful ones shifted models to coordinating vacation packages and other end-to-end services. But the "buy a ticket this one time" market went out the window.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:10 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd argue that travel agencies were largely destroyed by the airlines themselves, not online booking. There was a steady progression of years of diminishing incentives for agents. Most agents either went into corporate travel or found other work.

Other careers:
Typewriter/copier/mimeograph sales and repair
Door to door sales
Long-distance phone service
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:15 AM on November 22, 2011

Film developers are pretty much only in the purview of photography students and serious hobbyists now. Most everyone takes photos digitally, doesn't print them at all, or gets them printed from an online source.

In addition to the postal service being decimated by email, stationers have been hit hard, too. Of course you can always find wedding stationary, thank-you cards, etc., but gone are the days when every lady had her own stationary for everyday correspondence. The greeting card industry has gone bust, too.

Also, due to advances in information technology which spur lower prices on the technology involved in manufacturing, many of our everyday electronics are now more disposable than ever: TVs, CD players, toaster ovens, etc. They're practically made to be disposable now. That means that electronics repairs are swiftly going the way of the dodo, because it's cheaper to replace your TV than fix it.
posted by juniperesque at 10:35 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Record stores.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2011

Video rental stores. Replaced by on-demand programming, Netflix, Redbox, etc.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:50 AM on November 22, 2011

EBay has drastically cut into the business of local versions - pawn shops, thrift stores, local auction houses, etc.
posted by ErikaB at 10:58 AM on November 22, 2011

The post office - and post cards sales.

I have a bunch of post cards that belonged to my grand-mother in the 1920s, living in Brooklyn, NY. Lots of them say things like, "do you want to meet for lunch next week?" Her and her friends would mail the cards across the city as a primary means of communication.
posted by Flood at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mom did the books for a lumber company that refused to get computers, until the year that the company that printed the paper ledger inserts stopped printing them. I think that year was 2009.
posted by xingcat at 11:04 AM on November 22, 2011

Due to the prevalence of reviews for everything, it has exponentially hurt any consumer-facing business that performs below expectations. For example, before if you went somewhere and had a bad experience, you could suppose that it may have been a fluke. Now, if you google a business and its been given 50 1-star reviews, you can be relatively sure you will also have a bad experience, and you avoid the place entirely. Its good for you- you don't waste your time or money. But its harder for any business that gets off to a rocky start because they have fewer opportunities to redeem themselves. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I would also like to add that it seems it would be much, much harder to be a con-artist. Or at least an analog con-artist with forged documents and things like that. For example, before you could probably make up a pretty convincing letter of recommendation with a typewriter and a fake name. Now with social networking sites like LinkedIn, it is easier to tell if people exist, have worked somewhere, really know other people, have recommendations from real people, etc.
posted by halseyaa at 11:06 AM on November 22, 2011

CD stores
used book stores
photo developers
posted by goethean at 11:09 AM on November 22, 2011

Data entry is going the way of newspapers as technology gets better. I used to spend all day long typing stuff into a computer, now I am mostly fixing "self-reported" data other idiots typed incorrectly. I don't think I'll be employed at what I do for more than another year or two, tops, due to automation.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2011

Encyclopedia Salesmen
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:16 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Calculator" and "Computer" where once job descriptions rather than names of bits of technology.

Payhone repairers
posted by rongorongo at 11:31 AM on November 22, 2011

the CD tower/media storage-as-furniture industry
posted by blazingunicorn at 11:32 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the better question is 'what jobs have not been hurt?'. Technology allows globalization to work, so everything from outsourcing manufacturing to having an Indian read your MRI report changes the landscape. Also, I think its important to discriminate between jobs and businesses. The video rental business is doing just fine, just the actors in it have changed.
posted by H. Roark at 11:37 AM on November 22, 2011

Record stores are another interesting example that seems obvious, but in fact, record stores were in trouble before the mp3/broadband revolution. When I was a kid in the 80s, every mall had two if not three record stores. By the 90s, those days were fading fast. mp3s and iTunes didn't kill record stores. Consolidation and record company greed did.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2011

Radio DJ's. A lot of people do all their listening through Pandora, Spotify, etc. And the radio stations that have survived are using a centrally located DJ who is broadcast to stations all over the country.

Audio Engineers- the small time bands recording demos that used to be the bread and butter for most audio engineers are now doing it themselves on computers.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:11 PM on November 22, 2011

Not to derail, I worked in music retail in the 90s. The big hurt prior to the rise of digital downloads was mainly big box stores and their use of CDs as loss leaders to get people in the store. Saavy stores and chains were able to adapt. The rise of digital downloads killed these survivors.

I would, however, argue that media consolidation killed the DJ before Pandora and Spotify could.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:45 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

2nding that all our jobs and all businesses have been affected.

Today, which was a pretty normal day for me in terms of tasks and activities - I spoke to our support staff in our offshoring facility in India and exchanged a bunch of files with them through our online file depository, I was fielding quick questions and queries from colleagues in other offices and other countries on the instant messaging system throughout the day, I spoke to a bunch of people on the phone whilst we were both looking at the same files on our respective computers, I was travelling on a train and working on the laptop, I was accessing files on our server whilst connected to our VPN using the client's guest wifi connection and sent a bunch of emails, most of the emails had attachments of some kind or references to electronic information my colleagues or clients all had access to from our respective locations. Tomorrow will not be any different.

The technology and thechnological infrastracture that has become available to businesses and individuals in recent years means that I could now do more than half my job from anywhere in the world as long as I have an internet connection and a mobile phone...which would have been impossible even 5 years ago.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:24 PM on November 22, 2011

Answering services
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:47 PM on November 22, 2011

posted by R2WeTwo at 6:44 PM on November 22, 2011

macrowave: "I think I have to disagree with the inclusion of travel agencies. "

I have to disagree with your disagreement. :) I lost my IT job at a large travel agency when everything went online. Expedia, Travelocity and the like provide exponentially fewer jobs than existed 20 years ago in the big travel players.

My contribution: bookkeeping, accounts payable and payroll are so automated that now one person can do what used to take an entire department of people.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2011

Switchboard operators
Newspaper printing press workers
posted by SisterHavana at 10:13 PM on November 23, 2011

Critic, movie reviewer. When I was young there were several professional "Critics" of movies, tv, books. Now it is crowd-sourced.

Stock photographer was replaced by free digital creative commons photos.
posted by cda at 11:32 AM on November 24, 2011

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