Sunday, September 7, 2008
This photograph was taken in the 1910's and shows a secretary working on an old typewriter. I love looking at the old typewriter and thinking about how much has changed in the last 100 years. I got my first real job in 1984. I can remember at that time, there were no personal computers in the office. There were computers in the building, but they were used to control scientific instruments. At that time, if you wanted to use a computer, you sat down in front of it, and wrote a program. There were not things like word processors or windows or graphics. The computer turned on, and you wrote a program telling it what calculation or function you wanted it to do. I think it was probably about 1985 that our office got the first personal computer. There was one for the entire building. Not many people used it. Then, within another year or so, people started getting PCs in their offices. This was a huge productivity boost, as individuals could produce their own memos and reports without going through the secretary, who was usually days behind on her work. Then, several years later, email came out. I can remember how exciting it was to be able to instantaneously communicate with people. What I did notice, however, is that very quickly people became somewhat lazy and sloppy in their communication. People did not put the thought and care into their email communications that they had typically done with paper memos or reports. Overall, I think computers have increased the volume of communication between people, but have dramatically lowered the quality of communication. I have an old trunk full of family letters. These letters are treasures, with family members pouring their heart out to their loved ones. Some how email is just not as intimate as a good old fashioned hand written letter. I guess no one writes those any more.