Saturday, September 1, 2012

LOST TO TECHNOLOGY







I lost a post today.   I was in the final fiddly stages of trying to justify margins and trying to figure out why one paragraph wouldn't.   At some point, in frustration, I closed the post and somehow it wasn't saved.  Poof!   Just like that, it was gone.   A carefully chosen photograph, a relevant drawing and a researched and informative post on deforestation--just like the clear cut trees--gone.

But I believe I have cultivated the trait of perseverance so, at some point, when my annoyance with myself and my computer has sufficiently subsided I will endeavour to recreate this post.

But this untimely event did lead my thoughts to contemplating the impermanence of modern technology.  I am one of those people who can recall, to the disbelief of some, a time when there were no computers.   Okay, I'm sure some government office somewhere had those enormous ENIAC machines that took up entire office floors, but for the general public, computers did not exist.   

On a long walk with my two dogs early this morning, we came across a couple of large tattered cardboard boxes containing video-cassettes at the curb of a home.   Out with the trash.  You remember those, right?   You used to go to the video store and rent a movie or two and then had to drive back at 11:30 p.m. to return them before the midnight deadline or face a fine.   I spent a minute glancing at the boxes while my dogs investigated a nearby clump of shrubbery.   Carefully labelled there were television seasons of old shows like ER, old movies like ET (what's with these acronyms?) and dozens of other rectangular black plastic boxes, a memorial to by-gone decades and an obsolete technology.  It must have hurt to have dumped them outside in the open cardboard boxes, knowing that wind and weather would damage them irrevocably.   Did the owner not even deem them worthy of inclusion in his next garage sale, so little value did they now have?

In the book, A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, there is an Epilogue or final chapter (or perhaps it was the Prologue) wherein someone who is discussing the diary, for that is what the book is, or perhaps presenting a paper at a conference on the details of the diary.   (This is where I should have the book at hand to confirm these details!)   The narrator explains that delays in decoding the diary's contents were due to difficulties obtaining the piece of technology in which the diary was recorded.   This was, I believe, a  cassette tape recorder.   I would not know where to obtain one myself now.

By way of contrast, I was some years ago in the British Library in London where on view I saw the actual manuscript of Pride and Prejudice by  Jane Austen and read some paragraphs, written in her hand  over two hundred years prior.    

There is a moral here or at least a message but I will leave that for you to determine.

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