The word innovation scares me. It’s coupled with change, revolution and transformation. And over the years I’ve experienced them all. Politics (from Nats to ANC) and religion (from traditional to charismatic; from love thy neighbour to bomb they neighbour). Upheaval and uncertainty.
But technology I fear the most.
My school life included typewriters. They revolutionised writing that before had been done by hand. Teachers decried their use, predicting the death of “beautiful copperplate writing”. I prided myself with my writing, scoring extra marks for “up stroke, thin, down stroke, thick”.
But once mastering the typewriter, out went copperplate. Teachers proved right. Then even typewriters changed. Golf balls were added. Not to improve your swing, but to change the typeface with a choice of serif or sans serif. Nevertheless, an irritant. When changing balls your fingers became soiled with ink off the ribbon.
I went on to become a typesetter on newspapers. Picture a huge typewriter spewing molten lead into copper molds. Lines of type in reverse. A daunting change. Initially a nightmare.
As soon as you’ve accepted the new technology, a new one rears its horrible head. Old brains again being taxed with attendant irritation, frustration and fear.
Like computers. From someone who saw and felt text, now tried coping with the unseen. Windows within windows arrived, threatening the good old ways of publishing. Professional typesetters refusing to learn the new printers’ devil, were retrenched overnight.
A journalist colleague of yesteryear resisted the change, insisting on churning out copy on her typewriter. But when threatened with firing she bit the bullet and took lessons. First day back after training, she switched on her machine. She suddenly sprang up, knocking over her chair, and proceeded to open office windows near her desk. And that on a freezing winter’s day. Why the irrational move? Simple. Her computer screen flashed, “Open Windows”.
Her response was symptomatic of a generation being thrown into the hordes of a technological revolution.
And it hasn’t stopped. Added to windows are baskets into which newspaper copy earmarked for different sections are placed. To find these carriers isn’t easy, and once found, a mission to fill and send them on to others in the basket queue.
So, before me myself becomes a basket case, allow me to wish you a happy and safe festive season.
Back next year unless windows close on me.