I’ve always thought I was fairly ‘up there’ and tapped into new technology, kept abreast of new developments, and could converse on an equal footing with ‘techno-bods’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the ‘geek’ category – never have been, but I’ve been there since the first ZX81, and the BBC micro-computer days. I’ve seen the first computers used in schools – and that was a high school at the time – and if we were lucky, out of the 40 in my class who had ‘IT’ for one thirty minute ‘lesson’ each week, you may have got so far as typing one or two words on the screen as everyone huddled around the sole machine like it was an idol to be worshipped.
Then there was the tape-player, and loading ‘games’ via tape. That took ages. I always remember being in a school lesson with a ‘stand-in’ teacher who to say IT was an anathema, was an understatement. I remember the feeling of knowing that every child in the class was on a higher plane and level of IT knowledge to the one individual who was meant to be in that position (i.e.. the teacher), and complaining bitterly to my Dad when I got home about their inability to even load a tape into the machine to install the ‘educational package’ we were meant to be learning. Of course, by the time it had loaded, there was only 5 minutes left of the lesson …….
At this point, it’s probably worth pointing out that my Dad was the only IT teacher in my high school at the time – and even then, was splitting half his time teaching maths, and the other half on computers – so new was the topic area. This gradually changed as the years rolled by, and both IT and computers has changed out of all recognition, becoming the life-blood of educational establishments, the home, as well as the workplace.
So, I’ve always liked to think I was slightly ahead of the curve and have fully embraced changes in technology. I could do some basic coding, could manipulate spreadsheets, databases and word documents, develop a slick presentation with slides and graphics – plus, made full use of the integrated calendars when these started to come in. I’ve even moved away from ‘written calendars’ at home, and everything is electronic. Whilst my husband works for a global IT firm, I’m the one who knows how to watch all my favourite UK TV programmes whilst in Canada. That’s how far I’ve come over the years …
Music has changed as the technology has. I remember the vinyl 33″, 45″ and 78″ records – and having endless hours of amusement playing them at different speeds on the turntable record players. I subscribe to this day, that ‘Pinky and Perky’ were constructed on this basis ….
I moved with the flow and into tapes as ‘walkmans’ became the ‘in thing’, but have to admit, the sound was never as great as listening on vinyl. That said, I can’t begin to ‘tot up’ the number of hours I’d spend constructing the latest ‘charts’ as they were played on the radio on a Sunday afternoon, or my latest playlist that I’d put together piece by piece and would play through earphones on my walkman. It has to be said, that there’s a direct linkage between the amount of time taken to construct a ‘tape’ in this manner, and to listen to it back, over and over, with the enjoyment this creates. I don’t think I get the same feeling of accomplishment these days by doing it on my iPhone – probably because there’s so many playlists and it can be done so quickly, you’re not as emotionally attached to the whole construction process.
There’s some things I’ve clung desperately to. I still have my vinyls (picture disks were my favourites and I’m still of the view these will come back in as trends revert to retro technology once again – mark my words) – my tapes unfortunately withered as the material gradually disintegrated over the years. Our CD collection (which we’ve transported and brought with us across the Atlantic), features albums I used to have on vinyl and those I had on tape. Always preferring the ‘tangible article’, our number of CD’s far exceeds the number of tracks and albums we’ve downloaded.
I don’t consider myself a ‘technophobe’ and always enjoy a browse around the ‘fruit-logo’d technology’ stores and perusing the latest technology and ways of working quicker. I admit, my laptop hasn’t been updated for a few years (4 to be exact), so with my birthday looming and the prospect of taking full advantage of an attractive exchange rate in the procuring of a new and shiny model, we visited the local Canadian IT fruit store for some advice. Talk about a dose of cold water. Upon selecting the preferred model, this was the conversation ….
Me: ‘I notice they don’t come with CD drives built in. How do you play your CD’s?’
‘Guru girl’ (probably only 18): said rather hesitantly and not wishing to offend, ‘well, we find our customers don’t do that anymore. You can always buy an external CD drive and connect it via a USB though if you really want to still do that ……’
Me: ‘Oh. And what about the memory size? I have loads of documents which I store on my laptop, plus photos and stuff which takes up memory space’
‘Guru girl’ (who had clearly positioned me in the ‘I’ll need to speak to her more slowly, less techi, and introduce her to some basic concepts of how things are done these days‘ category): ‘well, we find our customers don’t do that anymore. They use the cloud although there are other external ‘cloud’ providers you could also use …….’
My recollection of the IT class with the supply teacher came hurtling to mind, only to realise the roles have now reversed. I left the Canadian store battered, bruised, and slightly dazed. When did all that happen? I thought I was ahead of the curve, only to find that the entire track has shifted and everyone else is playing a completely different game.
So, I’ve reframed my terms of reference and am going back in to the slaughter later this week to finally procure said item, and visit a genius. Let’s hope I’m back in the game again.
Now where’s my transistor radio and betamax recorder …