Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shutdown Day - March 24, 2007

The following introduction proposes a concept which may not seem so radical to COABC's: "It is obvious that people would find life extremely difficult without computers, maybe even impossible. If they disappeared for just one day, would we be able to cope? Be a part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the internet. The idea behind the experiment is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate! Shutdown your computer on this day and find out! Can you survive for 24 hours without your computer?"

In sending out my emails telling people about this site, I wrongly called it "Web Shutdown Day" instead of "Shutdown Day". Big difference. This site, responding to the growing fatigue felt by humans in constant interface with computers, does not intend to shut the whole web down -- even for a day. It looks for simple, small-scale, personal responses by individuals to their own computer use. Like "Buy Nothing Day", this is an opportunity to consciously reflect on our habits, reframing individual behaviour into a community-action context. The site suggests "Turn your computer off. Do something else for one day, then come back and report what happened."

I took the 24-hour pledge on Shutdown Day website along with over 51,000 other people who clicked "I can" (and 8,000 people who confessed "I can't".

The above cheerful and funny video "Alternate Uses for Your Laptop" shows that there is hope for all those sons who disappeared into the basement with their computers. Also intriguing are the written and video responses to the idea of turning the computers off. Maybe this is going to be the next cool thing to do!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When I'm Bored, by Alice

Here is Alice, who has, in my opinion, done a very creative job of making use of aspects of the internet. Could you describe some ways you use your computer?

I mostly use it for playing Solitaire. I use the email to send messages to family and friends. And sometimes I sit down and get lost in it, and try to find my way back.

What do you use to help you figure out how to use your computer?

When I first got a computer, I had a book with illustrations of how to do calendars and writing paper, which I used to make for everybody. Now my monitor went on the hummer, and I got a new one, and the book I used is obsolete. My daughter, Becky, says they don't have books like that anymore for new computers. I really miss that part.

How does playing Solitaire fit into the rest of your life?

I find it very relaxing. For one thing, sometimes I'm just bored, and the TV is lousy, and then I go play Solitaire for awhile. I get tired with that if I can't win. It depends on my moods. And I hope and pray that it will improve my memory! But I don't know about that, whether it does or not. But it won't make it worse anyway. We joke about "the Golden Years"!

Then of course the emails. I get lots of emails. Then I try to take care of that.

What kind of emails do you get?

All kinds. I have a lot of friends who send me emails. Lots of them are funny. Some are very touching. And some of them... I wish they'd kept them.

Are a lot your emails forwarded items likes poems?

Yeah. I don't mind the poems and stuff -- and the funny things.

Do you get personal emails from people that are just directed to you? Like letters?

Not really letters. My daughters send emails to keep me up to date and see how we are doing.

So they are short like telegrams used to be?

Yeah. And my son, I get short emails, but not very often. But no letters. He'll phone more often.

I notice that your picture which appears on the screen when the computer is not in use is a family photo. Tell me about that.

That's my granddaughter. She works in Campbell River at a water plant. When she first went up there she caught all these fish and sent a picture of herself to me. And somehow or other my daughter Becky made up that screensaver for me. I don't know how she did it.

To wind up, what would you say to other seniors about computers?

Well I like computers. They are just a filler. Sometimes you don't know what you want to do. Then you can play Solitaire and think about things. Sometimes you just want to be in a different world, and not have to think about cooking or something.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My White Rock Bench, by Fred

Dad, could you tell us how you got your bench?

Well, during my years in White Rock they were offering to let you have a bench of your own along the waterfront. And I was happy to buy my bench. The bench was made of BC cedar and obviously could stand the test of time. So I composed a plaque to go on my bench, thinking ahead to the day when I would be long gone to my great reward. So it was a good sized plaque, capable of being turned over and used as a memorial to me. As it's turned out, the plaque is not capable of taking seven names of my family, so they'll need a new plaque. In the meantime it is serving a useful purpose in that it is offering a wonderful viewpoint of the pier and its activities.

Last fall, you wrote me to ask me to visit the bench. Could you expand on what my "mission" was?

Your mission was to see if it was still there. I was aware of the fact that they had relocated it, but I was sure they did a good job, as it was a prime location for getting a constant flow of use.

I took along my digital camera so I could print out photos to mail and show you the bench, and also have a bit of fun with the project by stringing the images together into a short movie. It was a surprise gift - and a surprise to me how hard it was to find a way of showing you the movie! Finally we put it up on YouTube, and now you don't need any other equipment to play it. How did it go when I showed you the movie up on the internet?

Well I was surprised to find the bench had taken on a new dimension.

We are planning now to make another movie. Please tell us about that one

The latest development is that I am planning to have my cremation "dust" scattered in a small bird sanctuary on the outskirts of White Rock. While living in the area I had visited this bird sanctuary on numerous occasions, finding new flocks of migrating birds enjoying the rest period along the river. They had also built a tower viewpoint overlooking a bend in the river, and it appeared ideal for an all weather spot to scatter my ashes to the winds.

And in that same letter, you had also given me a second mission of finding that spot with the tower, and sent me a map with an "x" marking the spot. It felt like a treasure hunt! I was very glad that you are still around when I discovered a map in the picnic ground that showed not one but three towers! I didn't know if I had found the right one. But I could send you a printout of a photo of that map, so you could identify the right tower! And as it turns out, I was at the wrong one!
Is it useful to be able to see these images of the places that are important to you and to tell us about the meaning?

This is the time to do it, as I approach my 90th birthday. And I have been seriously studying all the aspects of my memorial wishes. First of all I would like our service of remembrance at my church here. However for the actual disposal of my ashes, I wish to have them distributed in the above location near White Rock. I have it on very good authority that it is legal to do this, providing you make sure that the ashes go into the WIND.

So is it useful to be able to plan with us, and work from pictures so that those of us who will be making your last wishes come true can be sure that we doing it right?

Yes. I am very surprised that there are now three towers to choose from! However my original choice is still valid.

And with your help via the photos and video, all seven of us can be feeling like we are sharing your vision of that event. And it is wonderful to be able to talk about this with you, and even have a few laughs. 

Subsequent notes about the video "Fred's Spot"

After Dad confirmed the right tower, I went back to the place and made a small one and a half minute video which I edited in iMovie with a soundtrack of a favorite song off a CD. I loaded it up to YouTube.  I felt that I was a success when both my sisters reported that they cried when they saw it. And my brother, who has accepted the role of "ash scatterer" is relieved.  

I found this an interesting experience with situating myself to the lines between "public" and "private" on YouTube. Initially kept it private and just sent links out to my immediate family. Later, with Dad's permission after his interview for this blog, I changed the permission to "public" so that I could insert it here. a lot of thought, I wrote a rather vague description on YouTube, so that viewers who are uninvolved in my family's story would only know that this is my Dad's favorite spot, but not why. However I am comfortable showing it here, in my blog, where viewers have a context. I would welcome comments and stories about choices made in this regard. 

Thursday, March 08, 2007

YouTube for COABC's

In my posting about Time's "Person of the Year" I got into a discussion about YouTube". Since then I've been checking it out, looking specifically for videos either made by COABC's (people who came of age before computers), or of interest to people of any age, who have an ambivalent relationship with new technology.

A real selling point of YouTube for me is that you don't need to have any special viewing software loaded on your own computer, to pay, or to be a member, to be able to view videos there. So I've started a new section on the right called "YouTube for COABC's". Please feel free to use the comments to suggest other ones you have enjoyed.

To see the video illustrated at the left, click on this link for "Introducing the Book"

Also, here is a link to "Geriatric 1927" which is the "channel" of an 80 year old man. His videos about his life have made him the seventh most subscribed on YouTube.