I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A little local difficulty

The elderly don't do computers: we're looking for reassurance not revelation. Nor do we wish to be overwhelmed or deceived. Yet, as computers theoretically get easier they - paradoxically - become more exotic, more remote. Their language spills out into the wider world. Yahoo acquires Tumblr, says a headline. I had to remind myself what Yahoo did even though I used the service a decade ago. Tumblr? Who knows?

When computers were introduced at the publishing company that employed me in and around 1990 I had no misgivings. And for one reason. My DOS-based word processor would allow me, over and over,  to revise what I had written. I was done forever with tearing out sheets of paper from a typewriter and throwing them on the floor. Or bothering with carbon paper. I would write better, tighter English because a computer would conserve my physical energy.

From then on communicating without a computer was unimaginable. Quill pens are for quill minds.

I shouldn't have said elderly (above) I should have said old. Yesterday I was reminded. I have now transferred VR's reading record from eight notebooks (one per year) into a database - 1600-plus books reduced to author, title, date finished, rating, 20-words of comment. But VR's database  is incompatible and I decided a simple table, in MsW, would be easier to handle.

In a sense I've come full circle. MsW is at heart a word processor - as Chatsworth and a Scottish bothy resemble each other. All the tools I need are there to convert VRbooks.db into a table. But oh they yield themselves up so slowly. Software has gone out and multiplied, whereas I have shrunk. Never mind; the job would take longer with a quill pen.


Lucy said...

I think we almost take for granted the word processing function now; one of the women novelists, forget which, said when she reads her old stuff she finds it poor and unclear compared to what she could produce now. Yet there's still something in the intimacy of pen and paper, for me, at least at the early stages of writing, though I suppose I use it less and less.

I've used spreadsheet, tabulating stuff, for different things, nothing numerical where you can use the calculation aspect of it. Even so, it doesn't come easily to organise things that way, perhaps that's just me.

I've stuck my toe into the Tumblr thing a few times and still just don't get it. The Urban Dictionary can be quite helpful, though sometimes it leaves one even more baffled and bewildered.

I've said before, I'm not sure how much bewilderment is to do with age, though clearly some of it is.

I recently asked my 14 year old student if I could put a photo she sent me on my blog, to which she replied 'c'est quoi votrre blog ?'

Lucy said...


Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: I wrote several pre-word-processor novels and they were all nightmares. My sister-in-law typed one of them for me and, following standard letter-typing practice at the time, didn't indent the paras. Ho hum. When I consider the amount of rewriting that has gone into the three more recent MSs, I have to think the earlier ones were mere drafts, rough ones at that.

I'm not surprised about your student's response. I'm not sure that blogging ever really appealed to younger generations, too much like hard work. And now it's truly old hat.

Joe Hyam said...

I can't imagine a world without computers. I use them all the time as wordprocessors, and I would be lost without them. Yet when I write a poem it always starts its life in longhand. May be handwritten squiggles provide the sort of ambiguity and surprise which poetry needs - the unexpected and originally unintended phrase or image which often distinguishes poetry from prose.