Friday, July 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by rod lewis

I started grad school just as the digital age of interactivity was beginning. Seven years after sound could be captured digitally, but not played back. Six years after digital playback became available, and just as interactivity became possible. I existed in an interactive academic world just when the digital revolution put one-way communication theory into a half-nelson and turned it on its ear.
Immediately I got a computer login account, an email address, and a gopher browser and dialed, from home, into the internet where I could search the music library at Indiana University, look for microfilms at Cambridge, or browse titles and copyrights at the Library of Congress. All, from my 1meg RAM, 8mghz, Mac Plus through a 1200k phone modem.
Keep in mind that this was 4 years before Al Gore verbally fantasized about the information superhighway, and 6 years before the World Wide Web. My professors were issuing hand-written and typed exams with whiteout smudges, and we were submitting homework of laser-printed music scores.
We could converse with our more savvy profs about assignments via email at all hours, and we joined huge global listserv groups for the discussion of many apt academic topics. One of the things I remember most vividly, was typing into that computer with a dictionary on my desk. I was TERRIFIED of sending off misspellings, inappropriate word use, or other evidence of my humanity to these Doctors and Academic Titans. Suddenly, the comfort of home felt as formal as the classroom, or a submitted research paper. I felt as if my ability to think, write, and spell were being evaluated via my digital correspondence the same as my formal academic writing. No doubt, impressions were being formed.
So I re-read everything many times before pressing the hyperlinked “send” text, I looked up words in the dictionary even if I’d typed them hundreds of times before. I agonized over number vs. possession, whose and who’s, homonyms, farther, further, ie and ei, after c, and capitalization (or is that Capitolization?) Ha.
Ah, the handy-dandy hard-copy dictionary/thesaurus and, of course, MLA, or Kate Turabian for emergencies.

I have that issue still today, and like the old geezers who just couldn’t grasp the concept of interactive communication theory after a lifetime of reading published books, and gathering info from broadcasts, I now cringe 148 times a day, when I read consistent misspellings and improper uses of extremely common words. I definately can’t seperate teh edgicated from the nonedgicated. And THIS, in the age of spellcheck, grammarcheck, autocorrect, and automatic format. In fact, I had to figure out how to overpower the word processor lest Microsoft correct all of my cleverivity in that wonderful sentence back there. (cleverivity did not pass the test)

But of course, none of that is the point of my scribbling this morning. My thoughts were sent in this direction because I quickly typed a post reply on facebook this morning and as soon as I’d hit “post,” I saw that I’d used “there” instead of “their,” or some such display of stupidity. So I clicked the “edit your post” button and got a blank screen. Two hours later, when facebook came back online, the “edit your post” button was gone, and I was stuck for all eternity exposed to world for the fool that I am. This hurts folks.


So, I thought, indeed, correction and second chances seem quite easy in our world. Ctrl-alt-del. Undo. (Mac users just hit a button, Windows requires a key combo – different theologies for different folks, I guess) Redo, step backward.

These technological blessings haven’t always been available. A mulligan hasn’t always been as easy to secure. But through experiences like this morning, I’ve come to realize that though we seem always to get a second chance, we can’t always undo.
So, I think it’s imperative to accept that it is much less important to keep our failures secret than it is to know that they have no bearing on our being loved, respected, and cared for.

Of coarse, that definately meens that I’ve got to show a lot of grace two, lest their be les shone to me.