E-people. There is no other name for us.
There are 3 people and 3 cell phones in the house. With varying degrees of sophistication. I mean the cell phones, not the people . Till a few days ago, just one of them (the phones), could upload things nicely on to a PC. And so when those of us with really simple cell phones wanted to upload, my daughter would do something using "bluetooth" , get everything on the fancy phone and upload from there. That also brings me to the completely bizarre naming of things that has happened with the e-fication.
In my lifetime, we have moved from teletypes, to huge mainframes, to table top models, to laptop and palm top models.
My introduction to the IT of the old days, was through coding sheets, on which you laboriously wrote your programs in some third generation language as they called it. The entire stuff was punched into cards using punching machines. Bunches of these punched cards, were held together with rubber bands. Sometimes, the programs and data cards occupied several boxes, which we lugged around everywhere. All the machines were huge, including the card readers and printers, they made a huge noise, and I used to always secretly feel that if the air conditioned premises were devoid of these lumbering magnetic memories and peripherals, the place would be ideal as a marriage hall. :-).
Every Dassehra, there would be a Puja function when all the machines would be cleaned, decorated with kumkum and flowers, and the Gods prayed to. The folks at the top of the echelon would brake a coconut on the floor for prasad(=consecrated food), and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be , if a certain troublesome part of the hardware could be used instead of the floor , for breaking the coconut. Deletion by Divine intervention.
Computerisation, per se, was not widely prevalent, and attitudes of folks to it could be greatly revealing. About 25 years ago, I was once entrusted the job of conducting "computerization familiarization" lectures for the staff in our accounts and administration sections, now that PC's were making appearnces, and various operations were slated to be computerized . These were folks in their 40's and 50's , very comfortable with calculators and stuff, and doing things in triplicates, and xeroxing etc. That someone other than a human could be thought to think, was a mind boggling thing for them and I was asked to do a very basic set of lectures aimed and those who had seen , but were intimidated with the jargon and stuff.
So many times we blindly follow definitions. Because we know that once we get the hang of the running of the thing, these will just be names. But when it comes to explaining (to those who are perfectly happy with what they have), things like 'booting", I realized that the standard explanation of "bootstrapping" (pulling yourself up by your bootstraps) simply did not jell in a system where modes of entering, starting off and retiring were clearly defined and visible.
They finally understood when booting was explaining with an analogy to kick starting a two wheeler to an "idling" state. You put your scooter in neutral, kick start it, and if the fuel mixture and cylinder-piston stuff was exemplary, the machine would idle, allowing you to sit and put it in gear, move on, whatever. (Akin to getting a DOS prompt on screen, allowing you to perform operations). Since many of those in the class had two wheelers, they immediately caught on. Bad sectors and stuff on disks was explained by analogy with how the postman identified our addresses, and what he did when the address was nor readable.
In some practice sessions with interactive programs, fingers would reverentially, yet hesitantly, hover over the "Enter" key, someone would look up , and ask, "Should I press?". We'd advise them to go ahead and see what happens. I think some probably thought the PC would power off in shock, or maybe burn down or whatever, so much for the button/switch anxiety . Instead, the screen would report back with a very human like response, saying things like "wonderful", "thank you", and even "bye-bye". There would be groups laughing at something on the screen, pointing, and it was difficult to tell folks that it was time for them to leave.
Those were the days, when PC-AT's had just come. (Today's students don't know what they missed). Hard disks in your PC were a prestigious thing to have (!). I have used machines with no hard disks. And people, who were taught that booting was similar to kickstarting, often treated hardware like they treated motorcars.
We once had an engineer in to check out a hard disk malfunction, and noticed that he inserted the tip of a knife somewhere and gave a kind of shove to something, whereupon the hard disk suddenly came to life. Turns out that something that would start the disk rotating wasn't strong enough. For many days after that, till the company engineers managed to fit us into their schedule for repair and replacement, a fancy penknife sat on the system unit, and just like old cars were cranked and started by rotating a handle stuck in below the bonnet, one of us would open the knife, and stick it inside, and give a push, to God alone knows what, but the system started. The company engineer rushed after one of our incharge professors saw the knife in action, and became speechless.
Clumsy connections often sprang to life with alacrity when a system unit was given a disciplinary thump, or the monitor was given a punitive shake, and I often look back on those days with a lot of fondness, when the machines were perceived as almost human, and needing an occasional slap as such.
Today, a shop keeper will regretfully shake his head on being asked about graph paper, but will nod with alacrity when you ask for blank cd's, dvd's or pen drives. Phones which simply make calls and receive calls are almost non existent. In addition, they message, sing, take pictures, send pictures, ring alarms, traipse around the web, drunk on their own jargon.
The nice old rotary phone never had a proper name, but today you stick Blackberries and Apples to your ear, which is probably a good thing now, as the variety used, to go to the mouth, is very expensive this year. Good old notebooks are not paper anymore, and some phones even have pencil type things with which you tap out acronyms and short forms, that have today made English age early. Words like Bluetooth, which would have intimated a child and disgusted a dentist earlier are now routinely bandied around, and the younger the children, the more savvy they seem to be.
It's the story of human relationships actually.
Earlier, social systems for meeting were not as prevalent (in India), and if and when you did actually meet someone you liked, you valued that, and everyone worked halfway to meet in a golden middle, tweaking attitudes and thoughts. There was more acceptance of changing standard deviations, a feeling , that if you worked at it, things would be normal and fun once again. Like our PC-AT, which worked, almost at knife point, but got the work done, and probably got used to the pointed touch.
Today, for many , relationships is like a hobby. Like the new phones, you try them for a while, if they don't work, you discard, and get new ones. There are social networking sites, where you take a chance on total outsiders becoming your bosom pals. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But you say you have 456 friends, take a deep breath, and move on. There are articles written and scientific research done in how laptops and download speeds are causing anxiety attacks in people.
The whole idea of an individual sitting in isolation tapping away for hours on a keyboard, and trying to build an e-relationship, is antonymous.
Sometimes I wish, you could close a misbehaving laptop in anger, give it a whack, shake it, and start it up again, and that it would work again. I know some companies show commercials on TV where they drop laptops to the floor and they say they still work.
You know, they may find newer techniques of cardiac bypasses, and cancer treatments, but the solution for curing the common cold still remains to be found. ...