The ladder of incomprehensibility

I think it was 1984 when I got my first computer, a hand-me-down from my then-girlfriend’s geek brother. It had virtually no memory, and one floppy held a short chapter. The Tandy TRS 80, known affectionately as the Trash 80. Available at Radio Shack. With much struggle and many phone calls to the brother in Pennsylvania, I managed to learn how to use it. I loved it. No more cutting and pasting manuscripts. No more white-out.

I’ve lost count of how many there have been since then. Black screen, white words. Dos. I discovered Gopher in the early 90s, with its Archie and Veronica search engines. I began doing some of my research on this predecessor of the Web. Fell in love with the web when it showed up.

So my history with this stuff goes back pretty far, and  you’d think I’d be comfortable with all things dot-com.

Well, I’m not, and it’s not my fault. It’s raced ahead of me at warp speed. Just when I get to point B, I discover that the world has advanced to point D and there’s a whole other  ladder to climb. I am forever struggling to get past the next incomprehensible rung. For instance, this weekend I’m  joining something called The Virtual Living Room, which I think is a lesbian literature site focusing this week on lesbian mysteries, for a three-day chat and a one-hour interview with me stuck somewhere in the midst of all that. I think I’ve sent to the hosts all the items they required from me: epub books, excerpt in PDF, bio, and a list of times when I will be available and times when I will be hiding under the bed.

If there’s anything else I’ve already forgotten it.

I was led kicking and screaming to this virtual door by a friend and former student whose first book has just been released. How about doing this? she said. Great publicity. She would be one of the hosts. The group has 800 members all over the world.

I’m not intimidated by an audience of whatever size. I rather like blabbering about myself and my books. But I have no idea how this kind of thing works.

Suddenly the world of computers is incomprehensible again.

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5 Responses

  1. Me, too. I also started on a Trash 80 at about the same time you did, twin external floppy drives. It took about a week of swearing and struggling before I was a convert from my beloved electric typewriter. it too about a month before I understood that with computers the only constant is change. Last week I brought home yet another one. Nothing is where I expect it to be, yet again. When you figure out your virtual living room you want to come over and help me figure out what to do without a Start button?

  2. I have come to the conclusion that it’s all one big electronic-pharmaceutical conspiracy. We “have” to buy the latest shiny new toy, then waste hours learning it, by which time we need antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. Of course, to research said meds and their side effects we have to get online, where we learn about the next generation of shiny new toys…

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