I’ve always looked on technology, modern or otherwise, as a form of wizardry, as some type of magic. I remember in my primary school days, when I discovered the phone box. I didn’t really discover it – someone had invented it and I found it sitting there!
Anyway, I remember thinking about how the thing worked, I wondered how the underground and overground wires were kept taut enough to carry the sound of peoples voices – I had by this time been trained in the art of communicating using a piece of string and two tin cans and knew the string had to be taut to hear voices, This box obviously worked using the same principles, or did it? Perhaps not.
My next excursion into the world of modern technology was many years later, in the 1950’s in my late teens, when I was 15 and left school, I received a pocket calculator which I really did think was not of this world, but was some sort of a magical creation. You’ve got to remember that I was probably not of this world myself at the time – when I left school my two main ambitions were to learn how to blow smoke rings and to talk like Donald Duck!
Being ambitious I was soon able to work it. I worked out how to add, subtract, divide and multiply using the machine, but I needed to know what made these things happen, how the machine could solve very intricate mathematical problems in a heartbeat. Try as I might, I couldn’t come near beginning to understand the mysteries of the inner workings of the device and thinking too much about it gave me a headache. A bit like the headaches I used to experience when I tried to figure out how many miles it was to the edge of space or how many stars there were in all the universes and everywhere else put together!
Who was to know what else was simmering away in the technology pot!
I’ve mentioned my first two magical experiences but, during the latter part of the nineteen nineties technology had advanced so much that my mind had to boggle when I was faced with the word processor. This was a souped up magical version of the typewriter. The typewriter I could deal with. It was a mechanical invention that I could get my head round. The word processor was a different ‘kettle of fish’ because this came from Merlin’s world, like its predecessor, the pocket calculator.
Worse was to come – the computer arrived. This was the ultimate wizards doing. I was in for a lot of headaches trying to understand the workings of the computer. It was going to change my life as I knew it. It even had the facility to allow other people to see inside my works calendar and find out what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be doing it, at any time day or night.
Anyway, as time went by, I came to accept my computer; to quite like it actually. It became my best friend and before long I realised that I couldn’t live without it.
For the last few years of my working life I went on numerous courses and ultimately became quite proficient with it. I was never an expert but I learned to find my way around it quite well,
well enough for my needs. Though I am sure that there are those of you out there who are a whole lot more knowledgeable about the computer than I, every week I am picking up more information concerning what the computer is capable of – and this brings me to the question in the title.
My answer is simple and direct, you can bet your boots modern technology is really needed, especially in these worrying times.
Although there are many reasons why we should appreciate the advent of modern technology, one of the current reasons has to be the fact we are in the grip of an unprecedented Pandemic, the Covid-19 Coronavirus. It would appear that, apart from the necessary people, you know who they are: doctors, nurses, emergency services, supermarket staff, all associated with getting food to the public, etc. etc. etc. everywhere else has had to close their doors and everyone work from home. This is in order to protect workers from coming in contact with the virus. In these circumstances the computer is our lifeline.
When I started this article, I had it in mind that, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, most people, through self-isolation, would be very lonely. How wrong I was. There are many ways of contacting each other apart from the telephone, both audibly and visually, and without even having to leave our living rooms. In fact, the Government agrees with me, having decreed that mixing together / holding meetings in the confined spaces of offices, etc. can only add to the risk of falling foul of this virus.
And so, in light of this advice, check back in a couple of days to read my assessment of the pros and cons of the various resources available to us for keep in touch with each other in this brave new world.
I look forward to meeting with you all again.
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through the personal memories and opinions of our members.
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