Academic journal article Generations

Cyclops and Me: Confessions of a Former Computerphobe

Academic journal article Generations

Cyclops and Me: Confessions of a Former Computerphobe

Article excerpt

Machines can never replace that human touch. . . but I began to feel a little out of sync, and very much out of the wave.

At 80, like many people in my age bracket, I was a long-time and confirmed machine hater. I have spent my entire working life playing the piano for a living, trying to express the very soul of the music. Machines can never replace that human touch.

For this reason, over the years I have strenuously resisted the ever on-rushing cyber revolution, which has assumed prime importance in this day and age. But some pretty reliable people whose opinions I greatly respect have expressed to me their unshakable conviction that the personal computer is a new and absolutely indispensable adjunct to the human mind and must be considered to be the wave of the future. Of course, on reflection, I soon became convinced of the truth of that statement and began to feel a little out of sync, and very much out of the wave.

Over a period of time my mentor, Wendy, has had to listen willy-nilly to my recollections of a boyhood on the streets of London's East End. One aftemoon I was surprised by a tapping at my door, and there was Wendy, accompanied by a computer of uncertain age. She stood there a moment or two, then said one operative word: "Write!" And the machine took up residence in my living room.

Now I couldn't very well have an entity sitting around in my apartment for weeks without a name, and mindful of its single square eye, I decided to call it Cyclops. At first, we just sat there and stared at each other. This stand-off continued for some time, but I eventually mustered up my courage, and following Wendy's simple instructions on little post-it notes taped around the screen, I fired the thing up. There was an audible wheeze as it cranked itself into action, and old Cyclops winked at me with its little red light, beeped at me a couple of times, and then to my utter amazement it booted itself up!

Now as to the word boot, it is part of a totally new language that, for lack of a better word, I call Comspeak. It is loaded with arcane and mysterious expressions like floppy disk, hard drive, and CD-ROM, to name but a few. I won't bore the reader with a lengthy recital of my many mistakes, some of which were major. In my ignorance, I caused some Gothic glitches, and many errors of the most basic kind. …

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