I am no computer genius. If truth be told, I am as thick as a couple of two by two planks when it comes to computer technology or programming. But, being converted from computer sceptic to convinced enthusiast, I have taken this opportunity to offer support and assurance to those who blog but doubt its worth. My dear friend, Blogger, who contributes many challenging articles on this site, has also expressed more than once his grave doubts about the real influence of blogging and the ability of bloggers to create lasting change through its use. I only hope these few words might convince him and others otherwise.
I once dreaded, no actually hated, any new innovation in the communications world. I had long been a vociferous critic of such technical advancements as battery operated toys, calculators or remote controls which, in the mind of this staid and square old nark, were merely diabolical inventions intended to make kids and adults even lazier than they already were. The introduction of said calculators into exam rooms was an abomination and shattered any hope I had of actually having any intelligent communication with another human being ever again. That battery operated remote controls would have my children’s toys scooting to and from every crevice and cranny in the house to right under my feet, operated by one of my invisible offspring, was nothing short of hellish. And then, low and behold, my belief in the goodness of God was tested beyond even the most impenetrable mysteries of my faith by my discovery of the most iniquitous piece of communications technology ever devised for the destruction of mankind. I saw my first computer.
Please have sympathy for a man whose life experiences till then had been limited to learning to read, write, and say the times tables, parrot fashion of course, 1 and 1 is 2, 2 and 2 is 4 and so on – I just realised writing this that while our maths was being improved our English grammar was in self destruct mode. 2 and 2 IS 4 indeed! At the same time I was concentrating on doing (whatever that term implied, cheating or beating up perhaps but more likely destroying) English and avoiding eye contact with the teacher’s scything stare. And now I was expected to believe that there was a machine that, connected to a typewriter, for me the exclusive domain of the female gender, would allow all my previous hard work to be completed with practically no physical activity and far less thought process. All my life’s efforts could be achieved with the press of a button. The only learning involved was which button to use. After “doing” the button thing – I later learned the high-browed technical terms like “click “ and “curser” and, weirdest of all, “mouse” (Disney still springs to mind?) – this infernal machine would come up with all the answers, except really productive ones like what would win the three forty at Ascot. Yes, for all its technical ability, it could not really benefit me or my lifestyle. Or perhaps it was simply keeping this sort of information to itself for a later date.
Imagine my utter terror, therefore, when I was informed at work that one of these computerised automatons was taking over and all I would have to do was feed it the right information, press a button and the rest of my original job was redundant. It took me a long time to realise that my job could still be safe if human operators could act like loons and get it wrong. Then, my stone age talents could still be required. The computer, you see, only does as the human operator does, a valuable asset for those aware of it. As for my job crisis, I had no choice and with great fear and reluctance touched a keyboard for the first time. Thankfully the machine remained intact and, as far as I could determine, still in working order. I must admit I was also extremely relieved that the mouse I mentioned above was only a plastic hand accessory and although often portraying a mind of its own, there was no need to stand on a chair in its presence. Not that I am scared of real mice, I would have you know, but….! So there it was, I was forced into the sci-fi world of the computer, naked and unprotected (not literally, just in case some of you start getting flashing images) and often left to my own unqualified devices. I limped through those initial years with a few intellectual scars and bruises but on the whole a little more capable, definitely better informed and wiser to the tricks of the computer world. However, I was still far from convinced. I had grave doubts about a time saving device that required ten times more paper preparation than I had ever had to produce for any previous functions. I was so unsure of the veracity of its answers that I had numerous paper copies, now I had to call them “hard copies“, two words meaning the same thing, that required a whole new range of filing cabinets to house them. As for the print-outs, they could have provided fresh wall paper to cover Glasgow City Chambers and George’s Square on a daily basis. But, I think my deepest fear was my utter dependence on this “thing” in so many areas of daily life. My car was now checked over by one. My money was swallowed up by one and I had to accept that what was registered in my bank account by one was infallible. But worst of all, for someone utterly terrified of flying without changing into a cape, some camp shorts and a leotard, the crazy notion that a piece of technology would take me up in the air and land me back down safely was derisible.
In all honesty, it was several years before I actually saw some of the real benefits in this new communications tool. My first awakening came when I discovered that computer illiterates like me could play the dummy game and simply pass all the hard work on to some computer nerd who liked nothing better than to display his geeky talent. But then, why complain when, in the kitchen, feet up with a coffee, this genius was producing tons of information for which I was receiving all the credit. The nerd may have beaten me with his skill but I beat him to the bonuses every time. He just never caught on, the wee soul. However, no matter my reluctance to accept modernisation, I could not avoid some of the nerds ability rubbing off. The more I pretended to show interest the more I was forced to respond to his encouragement. Eventually I succumbed to the lures of the fiendish device and began increasingly to avail of its apparently supernatural powers. My progress, in spite of my determination to avoid every possible contact, has taken me to my current computer status, a one fingered, blog addict. I have to confess that today it occupies a great part of most of my days, especially in the wintertime when my old legs and chest struggle when out in the cold. I rather restrict myself to Celtic sites but I am ever ready to follow up any links that are posted, provided they have some relevance to the topics under discussion, of course. Anything media based is on my “no, no” list so I actually rely on the internet for daily information. I took a stance against Sky T.V. many years ago, deciding I would not increase the Murdoch coffers that gave such an unfair deal to Scottish football in favour of the hyped up and overrated leagues south of the border. Celtic T.V., therefore, has become absolutely essential to me for live game commentary. The commentators are unblushingly biased but for once it lists towards the Celtic side. So, after years of avoidance and restriction, I now find myself very much in the grip of the very technical communication beast that I was so vehemently opposed to.
Dear reader, may I divert your attention to our stone age ancestors for a moment. Picture one of their clans in there cavernous surroundings. There is a man dragging his beloved by the hair to the fire to start the cooking. There is a another beating a hide with a stag’s jawbone and yet another, perhaps, chipping away at a stone with a flint trying to make the ultimate axe. Running around, getting under their parents’ stone age feet, are a group of youngsters playing with a largish thin but rounded stone. They are able to make it roll backwards and forwards, a bit like the old gir and cleeks. For weeks they had fun with these stones with the adults only paying attention when they became a nuisance. But one day the brains in the group, being intuitive and adventurous, had a flash of inspiration. If these stones could roll back and forth, then with something attached they could be used to transport things, especially the heavy stuff they had to lug on their backs and shoulders. After several experiments no doubt, he managed to construct something that worked effectively and thus around the fourth millennia B.C., the WHEEL was born. As time passed, it is almost certain that the stone age nerds developed and improved this great new discovery. But, although it may have swiftly progressed from toy to tool, it is not possible anyone from that time would have foreseen the enormous impact this discovery would have on industrial and technical developments. At the time it served their needs and they contented themselves. As time moved on, however, other nerds were inspired to make fuller and better use of this basic implement. It is only now, looking back, that we realise that this simple plaything, this round shaped stone, was to change men’s lives for ever. It is generally accepted that practically nothing that exists today would have been created without the wheel. And, for me, the computer has progressed along similar lines in the world of communication technology. Back in the early eighties, my boys got their first computer, as a toy, for Christmas. Little did I realise, in spite of constant reminders and indications from my sons, the strides that would be made in the field of digital communications by the introduction of a tiny electronic “direct sequence spread spectrum”, commonly referred to as a “chip“.
The range of communication techniques made available by this “new” technology rapidly became almost unimaginable. Even today, after several decades of progress, this technology is in many ways still in its infancy. To draw a comparison, it is just beyond the realisation stage of our stone age ancestors that a wheel could transform their whole way of life. It is at the point of just starting to imagine and invent new developments. There are, of course, thousands of improvements that have either served their purpose and been overtaken or, although somewhat outdated, still serve a purpose. The later continue to be upgraded in order to make a greater impact on the areas of communication they target. Probably the most influential of these in recent years, is the internet and within its broad scope of functions the world wide web log, or blog for short, has had an ever increasing effect on the distribution of information and the proliferation of debate. In the last decade this powerful communications tool has certainly made incomprehensible strides, growing from a selection of individuals providing data or discussion sites to the current expanse of media communication from all over the world. The most obvious effect of this expansion and improvement is the serious challenge to mainstream communication methods, especially the press. Mainly free to use and, on the whole, fairly gently censored for commentators, it has become a genuine and increasingly more powerful competitor to the mainstream media. The writing is certainly on the wall for the normal press outlets and, if they wish to avoid a catastrophe within that industry, they would be wise to look at taking their imminent demise more seriously. The numbers who prefer the articles and comments of bloggers and posters are increasing day on day and receiving more serious attention than many reporters, journalists and news rooms. It is on the cards, therefore, that, in the not too distant future, the internet will have more influence and power than any other media source. If developments should continue or perhaps even increase at the rate of the past few decades, the day is not far off when bloggers will be the main, if not only, source of information and discussion in all our lives. That is fact and those that doubt it are “doomed, doomed”!
If there is any conclusion to be reached from this blogger ramble of mine, it is that even the most square old gum-muncher who vehemently opposed computers in his younger less enlightened days, can not only be converted to believing in their value, but to the power and influence they will have on every area of life in the years to come. An aspect of this new technology that will definitely grow at speed and have an unprecedented impact on all modern communication is blogging. I predict that bloggers will be the main communicators on the net at the expense of other media outlets. I know there are those out there that fear that Celtic sites might be ineffectual or even meaningless at the moment. I can only say that I believe their time is nigh. The day of the blogger is here. If you still have doubts, think for a moment of all those good old ancestors in the fourth millennium B.C., sitting crouched outside their cave, looking at a round shape that their kids were playing with. I wonder how many of them remarked that the round stone toy looked like it could be useful but could not help wondering whether, in the end, it would really be worthwhile spending time on it. After all it was nothing more than a round stone. Why should that change anything? All I would say to those bloggers who doubt the impact of their contributions, remember that round stone and the wheel it became. Be totally confident that as the wheel became the initial source of almost every development in the world of industrial technology so blogging will be the new journalism. Bloggers will reinvent the trade and create new communication sources that will have an unimaginable impact both on the doorstep and world wide. So, for you especially Blogger, have faith. It moves mountains, so the MSM and the Scottish football hoodlums at Hampden are easy meat.
H H pensionerbhoy