One of my fondest memories of dropping by a social studies class one day in high school (it must have been raining or something) was how the teacher foretold a future in which computers were going to simplify everything, fix everything, take the place of bulky papers and books, and find true love for everyone seeking same.
"Imagine," Mrs Frantz said, "all of the information in your books on a computer! You won't have to carry any books home with you to do your homework!"
Not even my pointing out that I was already not in the habit of toting books around with me could deter her. On and on she crooned, a soothsayer saying soothing things about a Brave New World where paper would go the way of buggy whips and rumble seats. Everything was going to be on computers, books would disappear, that was it, accept it.
Fast forward to the work environments we know now, where almost everyone has a monitor staring back at them, and a computer terminal, and everything that's done and said is said and done on that terminal...and then it gets printed out and stored in the boxes that the paper comes in, stacked in dusty closets and the former offices of people who swore they'd never learn to use a computer.
You have to print important information out because computers crash, and hard drives stop driving, and thumb drives give you the finger from time to time.
So Mrs Frantz's prediction of a paperless world never came to fruition (as did her presaging my future as a convicted felon) and that lesson has been learned by almost everyone. No one trusts just their computer, laptop or mobile device as the sole carrier of any important data.
That's why it was cause for great head-shaking last week when Garth Brooks, country singer of one song I like ("I've Got Friends In Low Places"), and dozens more that I don't, announced that for the last six months, he's been storing ideas and lines and snippets for new songs on his cell phone.
|How many devices did you store the data on?|
"All the new stuff which I've been working on for six months was on a phone that's been fried, and I can't get the phone to come back up. . . It's like losing your briefcase back in the Nineties!"
Well, Garth, next time, copy and paste and forward it to your email and your wife's email and print it out and store in your freezer in a ziploc bag. But before you feel too bad about it, consider the case of my hero Mr Garrison Keillor.
In 1974, Mr Keillor, the soon-to-be retired host of radio's "Prairie Home Companion," got the idea to write about radio's Grand Ole Opry, a piece that The New Yorker ran. They paid him $6,000 for it, and he spent that money on a train trip to the West Coast with his wife and son. But on the way, he left his briefcase in the men's room at the Portland train station.
In the briefcase was the one and only copy of his manuscript for a novel called "Lake Wobegon Memoir," which he thought would be his breakthrough masterpiece. The briefcase was never returned and the typed pages of the book he dreamed up have been lost from that day to this.
|Always with the red socks|
Type it. Send it. Print it. Save it. Bury it. Mail it to yourself. Just don't make but one copy of anything you might want later.