August 5, 1997
Most of you know I write these columns in a quiet little corner of my home, a sanctuary where outside distractions are minimal. There, with big band music emanating softly from a radio in the background, I can focus on whatever the particular subject of the day might be, and, if all goes well, produce one of these lightweight tomes. The system has worked well enough for a few years, but recently it has been more like fruit basket upset rather than doing things in the customary Presbyterian way -- decently and in order. Chalk up another willing but bewildered victim who has capitulated to the onward surge of technology. Friends, I am about to join the web and my life will never be the same.
The user-friendly little personal computer which has served so faithfully and well for most of a decade has become badly outdated in that it is incompatible with all the wonderful new bells and whistles now offered by manufacturers whose names I had never heard before embarking on this adventure. Yes, I had heard of IBM, Bill Gates and Apple, and even one or two others, but most of the players in this game do not have names that are household words to me. Suggestions and advice from friends and family members who already had taken the plunge, plus a little consumer research, ultimately led me to the choice of my new system. By then I no longer felt totally like an innocent lamb being nudged on to slaughter, but by no means was I confident about any of my choices.
Having a previous familiarity with the vendor also was helpful and reassuring as I listened to descriptions of the mysterious but marvelous capabilities of this new gadgetry, but there was still that gnawing suspicion that I was about to get into something 'way over my head. That sense has not yet departed, but things are getting a little better as I learn how to do what I need to do.
One ancillary benefit will be the use of e-mail to stay in touch with my niece, Sydney, who, with her husband, Vince, is now in China to teach at an American school after eight years in Pakistan. Routine mail service to such distant lands is too slow in this age of instant gratification. And of course there is an unbelievable amount of information in the various websites awaiting my visit, but I am not yet ready to tap into them. A period of adjustment is necessary, and in my case that will take a bit (byte?) more time.
I am faithful, patient and believing disciple of the computer, within the narrow limits of my understanding and practice, and I am in awe of the incredible potential it has for all of us. I would just ask that the geniuses behind the growth and development of these technological wonders slow things down so that some of us can catch our breath and absorb the scope of what's already out there. It's like being trapped in a rock video dreamscape where wildly expanding and contracting concentric circles repeatedly overwhelm helpless and innocent victims, drawing them into a dark abyss or uncharted sea. Ever get that feeling?