Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Platform For Our Lives

The internet is not just a place to find a bargain or a mate - it has become the platform for our lives.

In 2007, Facebook exploded. Ordinary people posted their pictures and profiles online, proving that the web was no longer an arena just for geeks and gossip hounds, music buffs, porn addicts and lonely hearts.

It was for everyone. On a mass impulse many of us jumped on board the electronic merry-go-round.

Did we do it in a spirit of adventure or resignation?

Was it inevitable or had we gone mad?

I believe the answer is YES, we are nuts and worse, we can no longer opt out! Our lives have changed irrevocably.

If one factor changed the face of the internet, it was broadband. Once the internet was switched on all the time, everyone from toddlers to maiden aunts became intimate with it.

The world that computing makes possible can no longer be thought of as parallel to the real world: the two have merged.

The web is now the platform on which we live our lives. From this point on the story of computing is no longer the history of a machine. It is the story of a culture, though it is barely five years old.

I have been trying to take a break from blogging to see what it would be like to live in the real world without my virtual friends. I may succeed this time, at least for a couple of weeks anyway.

So if you don't see me around it's because I am wandering around smelling the roses. I may get lost, but I am sure I will find my way back home....because YOU are family!

Keep shining.......keep smiling.

"Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding."
~~ Louis Gerstner

As well as smelling the roses I am going to talk to the animals. These cockatoos visit Dianne's house in Cromer, Sydney every day. (photo taken 31st January 2010.)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Telling Tails

Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Lisa meet a mad professor and they can see into the future?

Bart as a teenager with a big belly in development is pretty funny, but the moment that made me hoot with laughter was one of those passing vignettes the show is so good at.

The scene pans over a futurist streetscape and as it reaches a shop hoarding saying "Plastic Surgery", Selma - or it could have been Patty; one of Marge's dreadful sisters, anyway - walks out of the building. She is sporting a fine bushy tail. I shrieked. Mainly because I've always wanted a tail and what a brave new world it would be that had such plastic surgery in it.

I mean, why not! I think a tail would be not only devilishly attractive, but awfully useful. Monkeys use their tails as a fifth limb, but you can also be very expressive with one, as any pet owner knows.

My friend's dog, Ollie, practically takes off wagging his tail when pack members like myself arrive at the house. We often comment that it's a shame we couldn't harness his tail-wagging energy for the national grid.

But it's probably cats that take the language of tails to the highest level. I adore it when a cat stalks into a room with its tail held aloft at a perfect right angle to its butt, anus fully revealed. It's so incredibly snobby and most felines seem to do it when there are visitors. "You may briefly inhabit my sitting room, oh pitiful unknown human. I will allow it. But you must admire me."

My own furry lump, Ellie, conveys irritation very eloquently with tail twitching, developing into full swishing, when I groom her (she finds it very insulting). Once the tail starts to whack slowly from side to side, I know I have only a few seconds before serious injury. Ouch!

One of my favourite Simpson quotes:
Homer: "How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?"
Marge: "That's because you were drunk!"

My cats Wilson & Ellie in Nov 2006 waiting at the door to be let out. Their tails are in perfect sync.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Pen and Paper

I read an article the other day that urged people to consider setting aside our computer and all the writing habits we associate with it and to write in our journals by HAND.....scary thought eh!

Picking up a pen, allowing our hand to move across the page, engaging the intricately related activities of brain and hand may not produce "better" writing, but it can certainly produce freer writing and, in journal writing, that can quickly lead to insights we seldom expect.

What's more, the article suggested, handwriting can tell a story in a way that print on a screen never can. Like what was happening on the day our writing was so rushed that we can now hardly read it? Or about the day when we took time to draw sketches alongside the writing, or lavishly underlined so many of our words.

After reading the article it occurred to me how vital it is for all of us to spend time in physical activities that connect us with the real, rather than the virtual world.

Observing children, it becomes obvious how great their need is to play in sand, to create a miniature world with sticks and mud, to throw themselves into the ocean, to pick flowers, to dam a small creek, to sleep under the stars or in a tent or to run up a small hill and roll all the way down.

Swimming, running, riding, taking long walks for moment-by-moment discovery and not to get anywhere, listening to and telling stories, playing "make-believe" or playing and co-operating without comparing or needing particular skills; this is the best therapy - the best play, the best fun - any child could have.

A child's longings can't be satisfied by virtual experiences only.

They - and we - need first-hand experiences to feel content and complete.

"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."
~~ Maya Angelou - American Poet, b.1928

Sculpture by the Sea, Nov 2003. The artist Phyllis Koshland called this bronze piece "The Swing" and stated 'everyone should have fun with sculpture'.

Sculpture by the Sea, Nov 2003. Artist Willemina Villari called this piece 'The Viewers'.