Shadows on the Wall

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I have been experimenting with blog software and changed the theme. Not without some headaches – the formatting does not work as I expected, and I have not been able to put images into existing texts.

All of it is a far cry from the typewriter I used to use when I first started writing in the 1990s. The Internet was in its infancy. Kindles and i-pads were the kind of thing you could imagine in science fiction, not in a typical household. We had a computer that we could plug into a television and play simple games, later replaced by our first PC, with 8MB of hard drive… It cost more than a houseful of laptops today. Moore’s Law (crudely – the doubling of computing capability every couple of years) has worked its way into our lives in all the everyday electronic devices we take for granted – from microwaves to mobile phones.  Our lives have blended with the electronic revolution. Twenty years ago, I would not have wanted a mobile phone. My kids today could not imagine life without one. We used to organise our lives by pre-planning – I’ll meet you under the clock at three…  Now, a simple shopping trip without a phone would seem impractical; how many ‘where are you?’ calls take place in the supermarket with the participants a few metres from one another, reliant on signals bounced off a satellite.  I feel a mixture of impatience and  worry that I must be inconveniencing someone because I can’t find them immediately. It wouldn’t take much to say – I’ll meet you on the cheese counter. 

We are attached to their phones and computing devices in a way that is almost biologically  integrated. Bluetooth to Bluetooth. Wifi to wifi. A pseudo telepathy. A few more years and we will see practical direct interfaces to our equipment. The first steps have been made using brain and nerve signals to do simple actions. This technology will have consequences from the sublime to the extraordinary. Not just changing the TV channel without the need for a hand-held remote – I can imagine many possibilities, from controlling machinery remotely or operating medical prosthetics. Electronics will become an intimate part of our lives in ways that we won’t appreciate – they will grow with us – into us. Maybe writers will no longer write with their hands – at least not so obviously. The keyboard will become a concept  to be developed imaginatively.

Despite all that technology offers, we all have friends who refuse to have anything to do with computers or e-mail. They sense that it will change them, force them into different ways of thinking and operating. They are right. But there are lessons to be learned from both positions. pre-planning and commonsense should not be neglected. Phones do get lost and batteries run down.

Blogging is part of the new electronic revolution. In heart, I don’t think it is so different from the desire to make a mark on the world that our ancestors achieved in their journals or cave paintings or any other form of mark making, whether it is writing or marks on stone.

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