Saturday, 8 December 2007

Hi! Well, this is my first foray into the exciting world of blogs, and I must say I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining it just as everyone else has disappeared off to MyBook or FaceSpace or whatever all those equally fascinating ego-gratification sites are called.

I must say it's a huge step upwards from the boring old world of Usenet and other internet forums. There, I used to write stuff, and people read it, and commented, or they would write stuff and I'd comment, and then other people would pitch in, and it gave rise to all sorts of interesting discussions that went off in various directions (or degenerated into flamewars, depending on the mood we were all in). Whereas here, apparently, I write stuff and no one reads it, apart from the odd spammer, and if there are any comments they're restricted to a couple of lines to prevent any meaningful discussion from taking place.

Still, that's technological progress for you. I held out against the mobile phone craze for years until I realized I needed one to look for work - I'd really rather not be contactable by all and sundry when I'm sitting in the pub, thanks very much. You see, I have one of those old-fashioned models whose sole purpose is to make telephone calls...

(OK, it does do text messaging, but my native language is English, so that's out.)

As you can see I'm turning into something of a neo-Luddite. I was quite excited by computers and the internet when I got into postgraduate work in the late 80s, before they were part of the general culture. Now they're all over the place, and I'm getting bored with them. I spent three years without an internet connection recently and hardly missed it at all. My job running a newsagent's was done almost entirely using manual records - when the management decided to bring in a computerized stock control system it made things worse, not better. I knew how much stock there was in the shop simply by virtue of the fact that I took delivery of it every week, stocked up most days, and was on the till selling it for about four hours each day. I could usually predict demand far better than any machine could.

Now I work for an internet telephony company, doing number porting. Sounds like a really high-tech job - but whaddya know? Mostly it's done using manual processing and bits of paper flying backwards and forwards. It takes two weeks to process the simplest port, and some of them can take a lot longer. No wonders our customers are getting restless...