getting technical

Over the past month I have crossed into unfamiliar territory … tech country. After nearly six months of activating a Flickr  account, I actually uploaded photos to the site over Christmas and used it for its intended purpose – sharing photos with the world. (Instead of just posting my smart-ass comments on Emily and Allison’s Flickr pages.)

And considering the current state of the economy, I figure now is a good time to acquire some additional job skills. So I signed up to learn a second language: html. And feeling rather ambitious, I enrolled in a Dreamweaver course too. I can only say that I hope my success learning html is not reflected by my near decade long attempt to learn Spanish … No entiendo.

I had my first class in html last week and from what I gather, these symbols are really important: <and>, followed by </and>.  Throw in some letters  – H – and numbers –  1-6, a few a href’s and presto: a web site. Kind of.  I think the Dreamweaver is going to much easier to master. In part, because they do all the work for you! That split screen thingie is magical. All I have to do is draw some boxes,  throw in a few table things, merge some cells,  steal/borrow some pictures, and play with the color settings. (And have my own personal IT guy at my side to show me where I f’d up.)

In truth, I feel a bit like I have gone over to the dark side. I dusted off my old journals last night just to remember what real handwriting actually looks like. I occasionally still write in them, but typically when I am traveling. And with wireless so readily available in airports – one day I may abandon them altogether. I shudder to think of the day.

While reading my journals I was reminded of a discussion I recently had with the founder of a Silicon Valley semiconductor company. He was worried that with computers and tech devices becoming such an important part of our everyday lives that people are going to forget how to write, and in many ways – think and communicate. He explained how using the cut and paste functions repeatedly, as well as the delete button, prevent the brain from creating a continuous stream of thought. He was concerned that it will severely alter the way people think. It got me thinking about human communication in the future.

I am torn. I don’t worry that technology will dramatically change the human thought process. I believe we will adapt and evolve around the technology. And with so many alternative forms of communicating – by phone, via text, blogs, email, twitter, Facebook,  it’s hard to imagine a world where conversation becomes obsolete. In many ways, communicating with each other is now much easier.

Want to get back in touch with someone from your past? That’s easy. Facebook ’em. Want to find out what they’ve been up to? Read their info page, scroll through their pictures, write on their wall, poke them. But actually talk to them? Like in person? That almost never happens.

I worry more about the content of our communications. Nothing beats face to face interaction. You don’t even have to say a word to speak volumes. A text, an email, a twitter post, can never convey what a simple glance to the side or a hand squeeze can scream to another person.  I do worry that even with all of these different means of communicating around us – we aren’t really saying much to each other.

3 thoughts on “getting technical

  1. Good post, Munsey. You are rather insightful. Want to know what happens to me sometimes? I’m doing hand calculations or drawing something on graph paper (as we engineers still do from time to time) and I make a mistake, and my gut reaction is “undo.” It’s not like I really think I can press a button and undo it, but I always have a flash go through my mind that I can just take a step back automatically…and then I realize I can’t…and I have to pull out my eraser and it is soooo annoying. I think I definitely make more mistakes since I am used to just being able to throw anything into the computer without any commitment whatsoever.

  2. I love you Mary. I can picture you out and about sketching and saying, “undo!” I absolutely cannot wait to give you, Megan and Higs big hugs and communicate in person. One more week!

  3. I really think Facebook is kind of bad. I used to think emailing people from my past was kind of forward, but it was so nice when I got up the courage to do it and got a nice response back and learned something about them.

    Now I friend people and they me, without even a message. And I don’t really learn much about them.

    Although occasionally Facebook can really backfire. A guy at church said he found out via facebook that a friend had died. No call, no email, no obituary even. I found that really disturbing.

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