Saturday, February 04, 2012

It's All in the Touch

I think it's official: I have started to feel old. It's not the achy joints or the memory lapses - those I attribute to my accident a few years back. No, it's the sense that technology has zoomed past me and is not even checking the rear view mirror to see if I'm alright.

I don't think I'm a technophobe - hey, I have a blog! That must put me in the modern spirit of things. Shouldn't it? But I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker recently that depicted a big pie chart categorizing people who blog. There was one-third people who make stuff, one-third people who self-promote, and one-third people who engage in conspiracy theories.

You might share my mystification at why this cartoon is funny. I thought making stuff was a good thing, certainly not on a par with egomania or conspiracy theorist ranting. But I have been vaguely aware that blogging is not cutting edge, and why should it be? I consider it a useful format to record and store pictures of my work and life, and I am delighted that some people find it interesting enough to check in on from time to time. Blogging has brought me friends and opportunities, and expanded my world.

Yet, that's about as far as I go in the realm of technical innovation in communication. I don't have a cell phone, I don't Twitter, I don't have one of those tablet thingies, I don't read e-books. In fact, I am so far behind that I don't even know what I don't have. And don't want. Even if I could afford to update gadgets at the rate the fast lane demands, the whole concept appalls me. (Which shouldn't surprise you, given that I plan to interpret Canada's first natural history document in 17th C. needlework.)

What it ultimately comes down to, for me, is touch. It creeps me out the way people stroke their little electronic devices. It's far too intimate an interface, in my opinion. While that may suggest I have unresolved issues of a personal nature, I prefer to see it as a sign of how important touch is. Our hands are incredibly sensitive and dexterous beyond what any machine can achieve. My work relies on the skill of my fingers. The expressive nuances of texture have meaning for me in the way the slick surface of an ITouch can never match.

I type this blog on an old Dell laptop. I use a mouse, never the touchpad if I can avoid it. I love the slight resistance of the keys as I press them. (I don't long for an old Underwood typewriter, that's too steampunk even for me.)

Maybe it goes back to the days when I first worked as a graphic artist, manually drawing perfect lines with pen and ink, cutting galleys of type and pasting them on boards in preparation for mechanical reproduction. It took meticulous skill and a trained eye, endless patience and  a professional touch. I hope these traits have stayed with me years after that particular job description has gone the way of medieval manuscript illumination.

The bygone ways are not all good, of course, as surely as the new ways are not all bad. The main thing is communication. As the old phone company ads used to say, "Reach out and touch someone."  I would only add, "And, if you can, knit them a sweater."

7 comments:

  1. You are not missing a thing. First of all the New Yorker has been choking on irony for years so consider the source. I started my blog for the same reasons you did..to keep a record of my work and to keep distant family and friends in touch.

    The fact that others have stopped by and made themselves known was an unintended and pleasant byproduct.

    As far as the rest of the junk goes....it really is so much junk. If it wasn't for the interactive scrabble I would have ditched FB long ago...may still.

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  2. Blogs are also a way of forming a community of like minded souls who can talk, share mutual experiences and help each other grow and learn.
    I think of myself as a technostic, I'm aware there is a higher technology out there I just choose not to embrace it. And as for touch, well as a chef it's everything your life is ruled by texture and it's like being a big kid getting to knead, fold and touch almost everything you work with.

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  3. i am trying to find a way to imbed touch in my electronic dealings.

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  4. Heather, check that rear view mirror - I'm way-y back there somewhere. I don't even have a cell phone and don't want one. no I'm not taking a laptop to Japan so I can keep my blog up to date,anyone interested will have to wait till I get home. And Bruce, I have made bread for years and can't imagine why anyone would want a bread machine, just love kneading that dough!

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  5. don't worry Heather. I'm with you. I feel good when i figure out how to add something new to my blog and it's usually something everyone else already figured out. I like that blogs are just regular people living their lives.

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  6. Identifying with all you say, Heather.

    Blogging may not be cutting edge, but it's a forum that gives a richness to our contemporary life. Most of the blogs I enjoy reading are thought provoking and intimate.

    The other day, I made a comment on a Polish blog, in Polish, because of Google translate. And she wrote me an email back, that her son had translated for her into English.

    I do have a cell phone, but it doesn't have the new kind of text keypad that makes texting easy. It's old fashioned. Think of that.

    Yes, touch.
    Now, lets go make our things.

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  7. I like to pick and choose my technologies from the smorgasbord! (Ravelry = love. Facebook? Huh?) Naturally with every new thing there are benefits and drawbacks. You can't possibly keep up with it all anyway. Besides, there's a Real Life to be lived. You don't want to miss it.

    OK, back to knitting while I catch up on blogs...avoiding the Real Life Vacuuming. Bad damselfly.

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