I first went to America in 1987 as a graduate student in the Creative Writing Masters programme at Ohio State University. I supported myself by teaching a class in Freshman Composition (i.e. writing).
Well, Macs were relatively new then, and looked like this. And Apple had given Ohio State 20 of them on condition that freshman in the Writing Classes were taught to compose directly on the Mac. It’s second nature now, but, believe me, 24 years ago, it was a paradigm shift to do your first draft on the computer. Older writers then claimed first drafts turned out better if you physically wrote them out, pen on paper. (Which is, of course, BS.)
Well, so these 20 new computers arrive, in an Apple funded Mac lab, and they ask for volunteers to teach the classes. Which, it turned out, involved teaching the students to use the computers, as well as to write.
The bonus was you’d have 20 students, instead of 24, and one hour less of teaching. In its place, you just sat there and baby-sat them as they typed their drafts, forgot to save, lost their drafts, cried, then retyped it, now instinctively saving after each sentence, as I still do.
So of course, I volunteered to teach in the Mac Lab. All I wanted to do then was read poetry, and write poetry. Less teaching: great!!
Of course, I had only been on a computer for a few hours before at that point. Somerville College, Oxford did not own one, and I used to cycle down to the Daily Information Offices to work on my graduate school applications and my magazine submissions. Odd how things have evolved in 25 years!
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And Apple’s brilliant bit of marketing worked with me, at least. When I graduated two years later from the Masters programme, I bought my first computer, a Mac. The computer, keyboard and printer cost $3260, which was almost exactly half the money I then had in my bank account. That tells you how much I loved the Mac!
And I’ve had Macs for the last 22 years, moving to Mac laptops when I was first pregnant and too tired to walk to my study, but able to work in bed. I now have a MacBook Pro.
I’ve also acquired a series of iPods, a convenient way to listen to books while doing housework, and an iPhone, which I thought was the niftiest, most brilliant and indispensable piece of technology ever invented, until the iPad came along, which is even better as one can compose long blog posts or emails on it pretty much wherever you happen to be, as well as handle blogs, twitter, facebook and the through-the-day exchange of ideas, information, inspiration and cheerful banter which have become so part of my modus vivendi.
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Intuitive Macs, iPhones, iPads: sheer genius. Their cleverness and capabilities are astonishing and delightful. The bitten apple continues to tempt.
Will they be supplanted? Within the decade, probably, just as blogs, facebook and twitter, this little Bermuda Triangle I so enjoy didn’t exist ten years ago, and so will conceivably be supplanted by the wannabes nipping at their heels. How? I have no idea, but a whole breed of hungry venture capitalists and geeks over in Silicon Valley are no doubt betting on it.
So invest in the things of this earth with caution. Both money and your heart’s affections.
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And incidentally, Steve Jobs did not change the world, though he is a role model in making beautiful, brilliant things beautifully. He invented nifty cool, overpriced toys, which have greatly improved the lives of those who can afford them.
His rival, Bill Gates, may, however, change the world in a more profound way. He is investing the bulk of his fortune in philanthropy. Eliminating malaria, among other things. He is inspiring others to do likewise. He said, that if one came up to him with an idea to make a billion in coffee shops, he’s say, “Good,” but not interested. On the other hand, if you went up to him with a viable idea on how to cure malaria, he’d talk.
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Good for Bill Gates. As our little publishing company steadily grows, Roy and I sometimes discuss the best uses of a possible financial surplus.
The best investment of a surplus for a Christian is to give it away. And I’m not being airy-fairy. It is truly an investment, if one believes Jesus (“Give and you shall receive, full measure, pressed down, flowing over.) And, again and again, I’ve observed “give and you shall” receive is true, and a sound financial principle.
And the second best investment of money, I think, is in health. Starting with one’s own health!!
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And the best use of time? Tough one. We are made of four components—bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits, and should perhaps invest in all these.
The spirit is the most important, since it brings healing to the body, light to the mind, and sanity and wisdom to one’s emotions and relationships.
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Vacare Deo. Make space for God.
For the great iAm.
And his iWord.
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Simon Ponsonby, author of More writes,
We live in the age of the IPod, IPad, IMac, IPhone, ITunes. Psychologists talk of an IGeneration, those whose lives are inseparably integrated with these technologies. But have you ever thought what the “I” before pod, pad, phone, etc stands for? Some suggest “Interactive” or “Intelligent”, others claim it is named after the initial of the surname of Apple designer Jonathan Ive. Actually the I means Internet. In practice, the I becomes the personal pronoun: my/I phone, my/I computer, my/I music, connecting me to my world.
Have you ever thought of your Bible as your iWord? Kierkegaard said ‘When you read God’s word, you must constantly be saying to yourself “It is talking to me and about me.” The Bible is God’s iWord to you. It’s your portable heaven-wide-web, where God meets you, speaks to you, challenges you, equips you, and through you, can connect and communicate with the world.