My Technophobe

Paspartout is a technophobe. She doesn’t just fear/avoid new technology (or what she refers to as all things ”touchy-swipey”), she’s a borderline Luddite – the Satnav sits in her lap (with the sound off and instructions relayed to me as I drive, with constant references to the oversized paper roadmap), my MacBook is viewed as unnecessary, Cloud Computing off-worldly, and the iPhone is her personal shuttle loom (getting her to answer it for me whilst we’re in the car is met with something akin to “aagh, don’t let the carrots touch the peas!”). Her own phone is still an old QWERTY Nokia – in fact, I recently bought her a new Nokia 3310 just so she could have some colour in her life! So, as you can probably imagine, getting her to embrace new technology is a somewhat Sisyphean struggle. Of course, by contrast, she’s a regular Facebook and email user, but enough of her contradictions.

The way I see it I have two choices – education or divorce (penal transportation has recently fallen out of favour, from what I hear). And isn’t that true of a lot of technology? We humans seem to have an almost bi-polar relationship with it. At one end of the spectrum there are those that embrace it just “because” (“gadget freak” gets bandied about in our house, though I prefer the term “early adopter”), and at the other we have the afore-mentioned Luddites. As for myself, I’d like to think I sit somewhere in between. In the interest of fence preservation, you understand.

So what is this resistance to change? I’m often faced with questions like “what’s the point?” and “why do I need to?” And you know, sometimes I’m not sure I have an answer. Well, OK, that’s not strictly true. You see, the bigger picture is actually pretty obvious to me: the more we experiment with technology, the better and more useful it will eventually become – the more able we are to address those issues previously left … well, unaddressed. Ultimately, it’s about improving our lot.

I think I understand where my Luddite is coming from, though. In the last couple of years I’ve seen a number of emerging technologies that frankly I struggle to see a valid, mainstream, purpose in (some wearables, for example, such as the Fin, Logbar’s Ring, etc.), but at the same time, I also see their development as absolutely necessary. Invention and imagination are both key in moving us forward from the future’s very own dark ages. And hopefully, there will be elements of those technologies that fall out into others that become more mainstream. At the same time, though, educating the market as to the need and/or benefit is as important as the experimentation itself. There has to be either uptake of that particular technology, or an ability to transfer portions of it directly into others, in order to move it forward.

Although, convincing people who aren’t natural early adopters, to take up new technology “just because” is a different matter. This is where my “but it’s cool” isn’t enough – you need a strategy. You need an answer to “why?” Whenever anyone asks me about that, I often reply with only one word – Velcro. What the invention of Velcro has proved is that a lot of other stuff – perhaps with a more easily understood application – falls out of the larger stuff. Thank you, NASA. Whilst the larger stuff might not have an obvious tangible benefit to most of us, there are benefits that affect the more mundane. Stuff like Velcro.

Although I sometimes think that divorce would be the less painful of the choices available to me, I’ve become rather attached to my Paspartout over the years, and so it looks as though my Sisyphean struggle is set to continue for the foreseeable future. If I’m honest, I don’t at all mind – just don’t tell the missus that.


Piffle, drivel, bollocks and shite
Four eloquences with which to write.
When I touch my artist’s pen to scroll
I nearly almost use them all.

Each stanza, line, and paragraph
Displays my elegance (in draft).
My mind, just like a rapier poised,
More oft to drift, as radio noise.

But with my lowly sang-froid self
My folio sits unread a’shelf.
I ponder on where reader went
But find my august wonder spent.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria (Miller)…

It’s rare that I’m moved to write to an MP, as I generally find that they’re odious creatures, oozing self-importance, and with whom contact will only result in the overwhelming and immediate need for a shower. However, yesterday I sent an email to Maria Miller. She’s the Member for Parliament for Basingstoke, and has mis-claimed over £45,000 in expenses, but only required by her peers to pay back £5,800 of it and give a formal apology to the house (which she duly did – it was in front of an almost notional level of attendees, and lasted 32 seconds).

Dear Maria

Can I call you Maria? I do hope so – I’d like us to be friends, and hopefully I can kick-start that friendship by asking for some advice.

How do you manage to not get arrested, prosecuted, and then incarcerated for stealing £45,000? I’m amazed that you’re still “at large” (as they would probably say on Crimewatch), never mind still employed. If I’d stolen £45,000 from my employer, I wouldn’t be sat here now wasting my time writing you an email that, no doubt, one of your minions will protect you from, no – I’d be ‘banged up good and proper’ with my fellow criminals. And you’d probably agree that I should be there, and quite rightly too.

Your audacity is a wonder to behold, and I applaud you for it. By that, I mean I wish you all the very worst that life can throw at you. You have betrayed the public of this nation with your deceit and hubris.

Shame on you.

Warmest regards

PS: Do please get in touch, I really do see a future in this relationship – I’d love to come and visit you. By the way, what is the nearest women’s prison to Basingstoke?

I received an automated reply, which was more than I’d bargained for, it has to be said. The thing that really made me chuckle (it happens) was that, the instant I sent it, I received an email regarding a petition on demanding her resignation (or a return of the £45k). I signed it. Obviously. Of course, subsequent searches for “Maria Miller” on now return pages of petitions in which she’s mentioned, a half-dozen of which call for her resignation/arrest.

I’m off to watch my sing-along copy of “The Sound of Music”. No points for guessing which part gets the most noise complaints from the neighbours…