Saturday, September 20, 2008

The trouble with technology

Thursday18 September 2008. To the adage "Never work with children or animals", I would add, "or technology" -- which is somewhat worrying given that I have been involved in educational technology for over 20 years. Anyone who has anything at all to do with technology knows that, sooner or later, whatever can  go wrong will go wrong, and that even what can't go wrong will go wrong. Murphy didn't invent that law, he simply discovered it:  it's a law of nature, immutable, unchallengeable.

Today, for example, is a case in point. Whilst on a training course I have grabbed every spare moment in order to write a blog. I pride myself on having the tenacity and dedication to do so, considering that having tea and biscuits and socialising is arguably more fun. But I crack on and, true to my principles, save it every couple of minutes.So, I publish the blog, and then realise that I have put no tags into it. These are the words that may get my blog noticed by more than a handful of people. And that's where it all goes wrong. When I republish the blog, half of it is missing. Then an indecipherable error message pops up, and then everything goes blank.

I had been working online, so there was no local copy. The saved file had disappeared too. Usually I write my blog posts on my computer, and then publish them to the web, so I have the original. On this occasion, I was working online from the word go. To think that I chose this occasion to pen some of the most erudite passages in my career.

Nothing for it, then, but to get back to the job in hand, which is to write notes about the training I am observing, so that I can give the same training myself. Actually, this is another form of creative writing. I am making notes on how to do certain things, and at the same time, how to teach others how to do those things. So I have devised a sort of running index for the latter, and on the same page as my main notes, by the simple expedient of creating a wide right-hand margin in which to put these meta-training notes.

Also, it is full of squiggles, arrows and light bulbs -- this last symbol to indicate an idea: proof indeed that I spent far too much time as a lad reading comics like The Beano.

I am pleased to say that my squared notebook is starting to bulge with ideas. Who knows when I will have time to flesh them out into full-blown articles? Perhaps list-making is an art form in its own right? If only I can write enough to become famous enough, my notebooks could be quite valuable when I've passed on; what a tragedy that I probably won't live to see it.

Upon returning home, I switch on my computer and start downloading my email, wondering all the while when I'm going to be able to fit in half an hour or so to recreate the missing blog post. Then I notice that it's arrived in my inbox: the original one, intact.

Of course! Eons ago I set up this alert form which tells me that I've posted a new blog entry (just in case I forget, I suppose) and also, more usefully, actually sends me the blog post itself. So all I need to do is copy, paste and upload -- the work of seconds.

It's all so easy. No wonder I love working with technology so much.

 

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