Ok so maybe the title is a little misleading:
Over the last few months I have been astonished at how fast things are moving in this technological world.
For a self proclaimed geek – I think that’s quite a big thing to realise!
Hello, Any one there …
Looking at how I communicate with friends I used to hardly email or write or call – but I now Tweet, Facebook and Blog with alarming regularity. I am sure that some people would question these as “proper” forms of communication. And possibly even not think of them as communicating at all.
I am quite happy to say that I am communicating with my friends through these on-line. virtual means. Its not the same as a face to face chat – but I dont think that just because the other party it not there in the room it makes it any less valid. A lot of conversation is non verbal – sure in a tweet or blog I cant pickup on you raising your eyebrow now as you think “what are you going on about you nutter” – But actually in a very Vulcan/Emotionally removed kinda way – It might make my communication more efficient – and if my “and then there were 3” posts are anything to go by – a hell of a lot more honest.
Sure a lot of this communication is one way – but actually – I suspect that’s what a lot of people want to do. They have something they want to say and in a “normal” conversation they have to wait for an “appropriate” time to say it – or to move the conversation so that they can say it. Yep its horribly selfish – but I think just the way we work most of the time.
The really nice thing about these virtual conversations is that they are conversations. The same freeing reasons why I can be honest and “efficient” still apply to the other side of my conversations. It may be as simple as a “You Like this” on Facebook or a comment on my Blog. Or it could carefully written email reply or post on my wall. What ever the form I really appreciate the other side of the conversation. The honesty, the simple thoughts, the 140 character tweets, the quick comments – they are all as valid to me as the smile or encouraging “ok – that’s interesting” or comment that shows you just listened to what i said, that happen in a “real” conversation
Maybe its a sign of the times, or my geeky core nature, or just “who I am” – that I am so happy to accept these “virtual” conversations. I dont know really – I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with me!
Pen, Paper, Keyboard …
As you may have spotted from one of my recent Tweets/Twitpics Amy is getting rather good at using the computer. I dont think i really expected her to be this good this early. So i am quite chuffed!
She can use the mouse the click on things, she can click and drag, she can use the mouse wheel and the on screen scroll bars to move around, she can navigate around the CBeebies website and play a lot of the games on there all by herself, she can pick an episode of something to watch on Iplayer, start it, make it go full screen, She can use a painting program ( Tuxpaint – Awesome program by the way) she can use the keyboard to play simple games on the Cbeebies website.
I am very proud of my little bean.
But i did have a moment of panic (as i suspect all parents do at least once an hour) as i thought – Am i doing the right thing – could this be bad for her future “development”
Unsurprisingly for a self proclaimed geek – my brain quickly came back with “Hell No”
Should I be spending more time teaching Amy to write? Dont get me wrong – i still see the importance of writing and i would consider the ability to write an essential skill – i dont think that skill should ever be lost or replaced. But I would consider the ability to type and use a computer a far more important skill for Amy to spend her time on. Already computers (in lots of different forms) are involved in practically everything we do. The ability to interact with them efficiently can only, in my eyes, be a benefit.
I suspect that I may have to make Amy jump through hoops during school as i dont think schools have caught up yet. I dont mind that too much – but as I know i can fill in the computer based stuff if I dont think school is doing enough. I am not too worried as already I know of schools that are letting teenagers use laptops in exams, when i was in uni over 10 years ago – i typed all my lecture notes in the class – i was a bit ahead of the game back then – but it is far more common place now. I can already see this trickling down through the school system – so I am not too worried.
To be honest I am more worried that by the time Amy reaches secondary school – she will be more capable than me. I dont think its too far a stretch to suggest that before Amy leaves home she will probably do most of her communication to her computer by just speaking. Typing will probably be important – but maybe as important as mental arithmetic was in school for me – yep it was “good to know” but for anything vaguely complicated you whip out a calculator.
I am very excited to see this world, real and virtual, through my little girls fresh eyes.
I cant wait to see what she will create, real and virtual.
Don’t forget the milk
Being a geek can be very frustrating – All the things that normally go wrong and get people stressed – can doubly stress a geek as they ususally know a bit of technology that would have stopped that from happening.
Tonight i am wishing that my fridge had realised that we were running low on milk and had got tesco to drop off some more. I am wishing that my bathroom had spotted that we had run out of loo roll and told me …. I am wishing that my floors were clean without me having to do anything. I am wishing that my brain had a post to blog button so that i could have spent this last hour doing more practical things! Like going to tesco …
But those things dont exist in my world – fristratingly – I know that they do exisit in the real world in some form. Double geeky frustration.
Well ok the “post to blog” button dosent exisit – but maybe thats a good thing – this post, whilst “efficient” and honest is a little bit of a ramble probabbly not as clear as i think it is. A diect dump from my brain may be faster – but good grief I dont think my server has enough space – and you would certainly not stick arround to read it !!
So I am thankful that my fridge didnt just buy me some new milk – as i have to wrap things up here and go shopping.
Now where did i put that pen I have to write that shopping list ….
19 June 2009 at 8:36 am
The importance of writing and mental arithmatic?
Although I wholeheartedly agree with you that computers are inevitably going to become a bigger and bigger part of life – I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of writing and mental arithmetic.
In my mind, using a computer encourages laziness – people become overly reliant on spell checkers to sort out their mistakes rather than learning how to spell difficult words and the calculator over stretching themselves to anything more than the simplest arithmatic.
In a society that it so quick to judge people on first impressions, sloppy handwriting or poor spelling can easily cause prejudice against somebody – often unfairly.
As for mental arithmetic – there are so many people of our generation who will answer “uh……” to a simple arithmetic question such as “what are seven eights?” – try asking someone of your parents’ age the same question……
Over and out!
19 June 2009 at 11:19 am
I see what you’re getting at Matt but I think the answer lies, as is usually does, in having a balanced approach. There’s not much point in being able to type if one doesn’t actually know which keys to press and in which order. I suppose the flip side would be someone who is highly literate not being able to get their thoughts down because they’re uncomfortable with technology.
As we both know, from working in similar fields, technology is only the means by which we are able to express ourselves. How many times have we seen students want to use all the ‘toys’ to light a show when it is inappropriate to the style of the performance? Yes, modern technology makes things quicker, easier, more flexible and, dare I say it, more fun, but sometimes at the cost of not being able to function without it. It’s always good too see students lighting shows with a couple of dozen lanterns and a handful of subs and I guess this makes a good parallel; can we achieve our aims without technology?
On a different level, our brains are wired in a such a way that everything is interlinked; maths to music, writing to all levels of physical interaction via motor skills. These aren’t just little outdated islands but keys which unlock door upon door upon door…
Just my 2p’s worth!