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Upgrade Me (2009)

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Poet and gadget lover Simon Armitage explores people's obsession with upgrading
to the latest technological gadgetry.

Upgrade culture drives millions to purchase the latest phones, flatscreen TVs,
laptops and MP3 players. But is it design, functionality, fashion or friends
that makes people covet the upgrade, and how far does the choice of gadgets
define identity? Simon journeys across Britain and to South Korea in search of

There was plenty of thought-provoking material here. I especially liked
Armitage's assertion that younger generations are increasingly being denied a
source of nostalgia, because nothing technological stays long enough in the home
to stir affectionate memories. He has a point. My wife watched the programme
alongside me and got quite misty-eyed about removing fluff from her stylus,
while I remembered even the smell of our family Dansette record-player, in its
cream-and-red leather-effect case.

I suppose our children's generation might struggle on through life without ever
knowing the satisfaction of removing fluff from a stylus, but it's hard to
imagine them being wafted back in time by memories of their MP3 players and
iPods, because the clever people at Sony and Apple will have come up with
something new before the memories are fully formed. And even if they do recall
their iPods in 2050, it surely won't be as wistfully as Armitage described his
boyhood radio in the shape of an electric shaver, "which only played Radio 1, in
fact only seemed to play "Grandad" by Clive Dunn." Those were the days, my
friend. Or was that Mary Hopkin?