I just got a new computer. The super powerful, cutting edge workhorse I bought just a few years ago is now an outdated model with something wonky in its motherboard. And it’s slow. So now I have a brand new computer. It’s a super powerful, cutting edge workhorse. It’s really cool, and it’s fast, but the new machine runs Windows7, and the latest version of Word, and it runs Photoshop Elements 9 instead of Photoshop CS …so I’m dealing with a steep learning curve. The “old” machine had oodles of gigabytes (I have no idea how many) but the new one has a terabyte of memory. “So”, says I to the computer guy “I’ll have tons of space to save my data.” To which the computer guy responds with “Have you considered keeping your data in the cloud?” Apparently all this extra empty memory helps the computer to work faster. The idea of keeping my data in the “cloud” sounds cool. Of course what it really means is keeping my data on somebody else’s computer instead of on mine. Which sounds way less cool.
While I’m at it, permit me to rant about iPads and other tablets. The tablet is the latest “cool” digital device, but I’m haunted by the disturbing idea that had tablets been invented first, then everybody would now be rushing to buy the latest cool advance …the laptop! “It’s just like a tablet but it has a real keyboard attached!”
I’m also troubled by the thought that had telephone “Call Waiting” been invented first, the newest “cool” and civilized advance in telephone service would be “Busy Signal”. “If the party you are calling is busy speaking with someone else you won’t disturb them, instead you’ll be notified with a beeping signal and will be able to call at a later time.”
I am a political cartoonist. It’s my job. What I do is to read the morning papers and listen to the latest news broadcasts and then try to come up with my “take” on the way things are. The creative process is usually done over a couple of cups of coffee. I often work up my ideas at a local coffee shop. I like the atmosphere and the coffee. What I do, in addition to slurping down my coffee, is to write and sketch all my cartoon “roughs” in a little spiral-bound notebook. Other folks in the coffee shop are looking for electric outlets for their computers or anguishing about bad reception or dwindling battery life. Not me …I’m working in a spiral-bound notebook. Always have. Over the years I’ve gone through hundreds of these notebooks. And I never throw them away. I keep them. And these hundreds of notebooks are now sitting on shelves and packed into cartons. They are filled with years and years of my scribbled ideas, punch lines, sketches, caricatures, notes to myself, and doodles. I often think of scanning the notebooks to “rescue” their contents, but the truth is that long after my hard drives have lost their magnetism (and my saved data) those notebooks will remain stable. They’ll keep their data for hundreds of years longer than any digital memory.
Here’s a thought, suppose they’d invented the computer first… would we all now be rushing to buy the latest cool advance …the spiral notebook?!
©2011 Yaakov Kirschen. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For more info email Cari Dawson Bartley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yaakov is an internationally syndicated editorial cartoonist, political analyst, blogger, and popular speaker. His “Dry Bones” cartoons have commented on the Middle East and the World since 1973. He may be reached at email@example.com