Brain Train: Studying for Success

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview

COMPUTERS: FURTHER THOUGHTS-FROM AN AMATEUR

12

Graham liked record-players, regarding records as things that showed off record-players. Patrick only liked record-players as things that played records.

Kingsley Amis, Take a Girl Like You

I am extremely grateful to my friend and colleague Bob Eadie for the preceding chapter, which I was simply inequipped to write. I do not have the requisite knowledge, experience or understanding. I use a word-processor; I am familiar with one or two systems and a certain number of software packages; and that's about it. Like many of my generation I've dragged myself into computer semi-literacy, but I shall never get even close to the professional mastery of Bob and his kind.

So where does such an amateur get off, writing his own chapter on the subject? Who do I think I am? Well, I'm like Patrick above. I value mechanical appliances and gadgets for what they make possible, not for themselves. Moreover, although I'm not for a moment implying that Bob resembles Graham in the same quotation, I was amused by his reference to hi-fi as the 'rage' of our time at university, since virtually all the Wattage-freaks I came across had one rather disturbing characteristic:

they had the most awful records/taste in music!

I will never forget going to four university friends' house shortly after we'd all graduated to find that together they had just spent £1000-an enormous sum in those 1970 days *-on state-of-the-art stereo equipment. And what did we spend two 'demo' hours listening to? I'll tell you what we listened to: an almost preposterously dreadful 'folk-group'-ethnic Muzak at its ghastliest.

There's a serious point implicit in that waspish little anecdote. It strikes me, as Bob implied in his original parallel, that people who were happy to lash out a small fortune on the latest hi-fi package and then play that kind of stuff on it are remarkably similar to today's computer buffs. So enchanted are they by the multifarious tools and facilities at their disposal that these become their own reward and justification. Hi-fi freaks are interested in sound only as sound, not as music; their

*The 1996 equivalent would be at least £10000.

-198-

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