11. Photo Developing

With old-fashioned film cameras becoming a rarity, photo developing is a shrinking industry. Most cameras on the market are digital, and new printing technology allows us to print professional-quality photos at home. That is, if we want to. Most photos exist only in soft copy, on sites like Flickr or Photobucket, with individuals printing only the frameworthy snaps.

12. Phone Booths

The omnipresence of cellphones has made phonebooths more of a retro urban fixture than public necessity. Unfortunately, public payphones are falling into a self-perpetuating cycle, with declining use forcing phone companies to raise the cost of calls. Lower revenue from payphones also means that when a phone gets damaged or vandalized, there’s less incentive for companies to pay for repairs.

13. Pinball Machines

Ten years ago, there was only one company in the United States producing new pinball machines. Now, production has stopped entirely, and this former arcade staple has been steadily nudged out by video games.

There are still thousands of pinball machines, bought and sold by collectors. The problem is that these games, once broken, can be tricky to repair due to rare parts and a decline in pinball repairmen.

14. Professional Critics

With the rise of influential bloggers (think Garance Dore for fashion, or Bookslut for literature), professional critics now have a lot of competition. Rating sites are everywhere, such as Rotten Tomatoes for movies, or Tripadvisor for hotels. Ten years ago, we would read reviews by one or two lauded critics. Today, numbers do the talking. Sites have star rankings and comments sections, where you can read informal reviews from… well, anybody.

15. Property Rental Agents

Real estate agents may be less in demand at the moment because of poor housing markets. Their rental services, though, were declining even before the recession. Property rental websites like Kijiji or MyNewPlace let people advertise or seek rentals, free of charge. These sites often have contract templates where owners and tenants can draw up a binding agreement.

16. Printed Encyclopedias

When I was in elementary school it was easy to spot the naughty kids: they were the ones crowding around the encyclopedias during library time to look up sex and penis. Now, curious children simply type into a search engine (better still, an image search) to quell their curiosity.

Online encyclopedias like Wikipedia are constantly updated, can expand without limits, and link to other online learning resources. Also, they’re not heavy as heck to carry from shelf to desk and back.

17. Travel Agents

Before the Internet, travel agents were crucial for comparing flight rates and ensuring safe journeys. Now, trip-planning is fast and easy thanks to online booking sites. You can arrange a flight, car rental, hotel, theatre tickets, and museum passes. These services are often presented on one big site like Expedia or Orbitz, and they can offer discounts on package bookings.

Travel agents are still used for business-based bookings or large-scale trips (think destination weddings). Individual clients, however, are slowly becoming obsolete.

18. Typesetters

For centuries, this job was the most critical in the printing industry. Nimble-fingered individuals arranged and rearranged metal letters to form the words that would make up the individual pages in a publication. (Fun fact: the word “stereotype” comes from the copies of page images set aside in anticipation of future publications.)

Now, typesetting is done through photo images. Though the practice is obsolete in any large-scale printing projects, there are small artisan typesetters devoted to the form.

19. Road Maps

GPS devices have been replacing the old paper road map stowed in the glove compartment for some time. Google Maps and other online mapping services will draw up directions between any two points, obviating the need for a physical map. Even travellers seeking street maps of new cities can choose from a wealth of apps to help get around.

20. Yellow Pages and Phonebooks

With the ubiquity of cellphones and the decline of landlines, phonebooks are rarely used anymore. When you do need to find a landline number, people often turn to online phonebooks.

Yellow pages are also becoming obsolete. Why flick through a hefty paper volume to find an electrician or nail salon? A quick web search for the business will get you the website, contact information, and reviews from former clients.


Which of these jobs and services do you think will disappear entirely? What else is technology rendering redundant? How do you feel about all this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.