Computer says ‘what?’

writeTechnology isn’t always everything it’s made out to be. Coming from me, that might be a somewhat surprising statement, since you know I’m quite the geek, and my RL job is currently entirely focused on implementing new technologies to replace paper, share resources and remove manual processes.

All of which is somewhat ironic, considering that only this morning I found myself lamenting the fact that in my own life the digital world has almost entirely supplanted a number of activities that used to be perfectly well served using good, old fashioned methods.

Not so long ago, the bulk of my ‘offline’ writing – that is everything penned in circumstances where I had no access to my computer – were written down, employing the time-honoured method of pen and notebook. This was an ideal solution for those occasions when I had a long train journey to fill, wanted to scribble a few words down on the go, or when inspiration struck in places where any other methods just weren’t practical. It was also handy for capturing those ad hoc notes that might, one day, be turned into something more substantial.

It was a perfectly good system that was unlikely to fail, barring the ultimate worst case scenario of losing my notebook or the somewhat lesser issues of being bereft of writing instruments or sufficient blank pages. It also had the benefit of preserving a permanent record of what was written, ready to be recalled by the simple expedient of thumbing through the worn pages.

Even so, to my mind, it wasn’t perfect. Anyone who’s ever attempted to read my handwriting will instantly appreciate one glaringly obvious drawback, however the real sticking point for me was the tedious matter of typing up my notes… There’s nothing like having to write the same piece out again, twice in the space of a few hours.

These days I’ve gone hi-tech:

If I have WiFi and my laptop to hand, blogging is a doddle, but for those occasions when offline is the only option, or I’m on the move, I resort to capturing notes on my phone, to be pushed, emailed or uploaded later to my PC when it’s more convenient. It’s great and it suits a technophile like myself down to the ground. However, like paper, digital has its downside.

miller_001Let’s start with the idiot who designed a drop down menu in which the ‘send’ and ‘discard’ options appear adjacent to one another, and then failed to add the all-important ‘are you sure’ dialogue when you mistakenly tap the wrong one? Then there’s the super-sensitive predictive swipe keyboard that can’t distinguish the movement of a sliding finger from the jittery movements of a railway carriage in motion. And let’s not forget the utterly unpredictable nature of where all this remarkable technology chooses to deposit the results of my labours… Is it there, waiting for me in my unread mail, or has it been arbitrarily shunted into the junk? Is it lurking somewhere in my browser, stuck in the ether mid-flight, or have I been sold an illusion and it never left my phone in the first place? For these reasons, particularly with a post that I’ve been unable to complete in one sitting, it’s not unknown for me to have several drafts of the same piece – all different – deposited in a number different virtual locations, none of them being the final version that I know I’ve definitely finished, (maybe).

Worst of all is that moment, sitting down at home, about to make the finishing touches to my latest opus, only to find when I open it, I only have the first draft consisting of three paragraphs and ending on a half finished sentence. Frantically, I check my ‘phone… No joy; email… Nothing; backup and pending folders… Nope. With a heavy heart I try to recall my original text – the witty observations, clever musings and pithy comments, but to no avail. It’s back to the drawing board and the hard slog of resurrecting a half-finished, half-hearted post. It’s around about the final paragraph that I slope off to the kitchen to grab a cuppa, saving my work before I leave the room, of course. Returning to the task in hand, refreshed and rejuvenated, I cast my eye down the list of recent drafts… and there, impossibly, I suddenly spy the same post, from two weeks earlier – complete, finished and queued for publication! Yes folks, I’ve just re-written a post that I’d already finished – so much for doing it digitally doing away with writing out a post twice!

Whereas, in the past I’d have finished a piece in my trusty notebook with a flourish and a simple line through the page once transcribed, the digital age doesn’t afford me that simple, yet effective, facility – and that is why, I’m seriously thinking of returning to notebook and pen, if only for sanity’s sake!

s. x

I’m workin’ on my rewrite, that’s right
Gonna change the ending
Throw away the title
Toss it in the trash
Paul Simon – Rewrite

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