Kremmling/Larry Banman " Technology is great, but human touch is still key
May 7, 2008
I continue to be amazed at how far technology has advanced in the past 20 years.
I just forwarded this column from a motel in southwest Denver to editor Autumn Phillips’ computer in Granby. All it took was a few strategic keystrokes on the computer and waiting for that cool “swoosh” sound this particular e-mail system employs.
To begin with, I certainly am not extolling my acumen on the computer. Quite the opposite. When I first opened my e-mail, all I got was an error message. I trundled down to the front desk and asked where I could find the nearest free Internet connection. English was not the desk receptionist’s first language, but I got the message. I was in a wireless environment right where I stood. I slunk back to my room (how is that young people can make older people feel so stupid regardless of language and/or culture) and tried to remember something (anything) that my son-in-law has taught me. Suddenly, I remembered the right buttons to push and, voila, I was in business. I quickly sent a message to my son-in-law, telling him I had accomplished something technological without having him hold my hand.
He likely is still staring at the screen in disbelief.
I quickly checked the basketball and football scores for the day as well as my e-mail. I was feeling so cocky, I even checked my g-mail account.
What I did next was breathe a sigh of relief because I knew I wouldn’t have to travel around a strange town during morning rush hour traffic looking for a Starbucks or McDonalds with free Wi-Fi. My deadline for this column is Monday at noon, and I was in strange territory. In Kremmling, I go to the local coffee shop where, after purchasing a cup of coffee, I often “connect to the Net.” In Denver, however, I am definitely a fish out of water. Also, I can’t shake that nerdy feeling whenever I pack my laptop around like a notebook.
Next, I remembered a time less than 10 years ago, when I was in another motel and I had the same motive ” I wanted to send a story back to Grand County. If I remember right, I was in Montrose on a basketball scouting trip. I connected phone cords, I punched in every code I thought I had learned and my story got no further than the screen of my computer. If I had made a phone connection, I would have been charged for a long-distance phone call that would have taken over 15 minutes to transmit. Tonight’s story took three seconds to “swoosh” away and there was no additional charge. In fact, I could have spent the entire night on the Internet and nobody would have been the wiser.
I come from an era and a culture where new things are always looked at skeptically. The computer and the Internet never registered with me as being bad. I saw the possibilities of savings in time, effort and money. And that is pretty much the way things have worked out, at least for me.
The key for me is that the computer is a tool. The ideas that comprise a column or a story still have to come from somewhere within a writer’s being. For better or worse, the computer is no help to me when I stare at the screen with writer’s block. It should be noted that, thanks to the Internet, research is much quicker and more convenient. You do have to be careful about what you use. Know your source and use sources you trust is the motto I try to follow.
The computer can help me with spelling and even grammar, but it can’t make words and phrases sing. It can provide facts, but it can’t compose them into a story that captures the attention. There is still room for the human touch. In fact, to my way of thinking, a composition isn’t writing if it doesn’t include that touch. Good writing reveals something about the writer, who he or she is and what they have encountered in life.
As a tool, my computer allowed me to forward this story nearly 100 miles in an instant, and I didn’t have to remove my slippers or jammies. For that, I am grateful.
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