Gremlins in the works!

Is this the Gremlin that caused some aggravation over the past couple of days?

Is this the Gremlin that caused some aggravation over the past couple of days?

If I was superstitious, which I’m not (touch wood), or if I believed in conspiracies , which I don’t (in case someone is out to get me), I would have been hiding away over the past couple of days. But I genuinely have not.

Having written about cyber bullying and the digital age, I went off to Dublin, with a couple of ideas in mind about other issues I might consider writing about, only to find that whilst others had easy access to this blog, mine was being denied. After repeatedly trying to access this platform and attempting to post an item, with no success whatsoever, I made various enquiries of colleagues with technical expertise at the university,  that led to the discovery that I was no longer recognised on the University of Northampton system!

A number of theories immediately sent my imagination into overdrive. Perhaps I had finally overstepped the mark and upset the Dean of Education or the Vice Chancellor to an extent that had given them grounds to dismiss me from my post! But no, surely if this were the case they would have informed me in as polite a manner as they saw fit. Maybe my suggestion that the digital age has potential pitfalls as well as advantages, had enraged someone in an anorak sitting at a keyboard to such an extent that they had, through the wonders of technology, cut off my access to this particular form of communication.  Not a likely scenario as I always try to be quite polite and well-mannered in my ramblings, and also because I suspect that such individuals have far more interesting things to do with their time. Or perhaps I had fallen victim to an invidious form of the very cyber bullying against which I had railed in my last posting. Could it be that some malicious individual had taken offence at my words and was seeking to take revenge? Certainly I was feeling somewhat victimised as others seemed to have no difficulties accessing the very materials over which I had previously felt some ownership, whilst I was being excluded. Of all my theories, this is the one that presents the most worrying traits of paranoia! But then as Joseph Heller in Catch 22 stated:-

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”

As I don’t speak the language that appears to dominate today’s high tech world, I am still unsure about what actually happened over the last couple of days. Suffice it to say that I now appear once again to be able to access these pages, and the status quo seems to have been restored. Thank you to those colleagues in Northampton, and particularly Belinda who have laboured on my behalf to restore this situation, and many apologies to anyone who may have been inconvenienced by an inability to post replies on these pages.

There is perhaps a lesson for all of us here about our over dependency on the technology of the day. I recall many years ago the debates that were had over whether a letter should be posted first class, because its urgency was such that the contents should be with the intended recipient the next day, or whether a second class delivery taking perhaps two or three days would be sufficient. Even now, I find that a letter posted from the UK to a friend in India might take a week in its journey before it arrives, a concept viewed as quaint by many of my younger friends,  yet in this digital age we anticipate that everything should be instantaneous. Emails arrive across the world and often receive a reply within minutes. Furthermore some people become irritable if a reply is not received with such indecent haste! This appears to be the speed at which we expect communication to take place in this modern age. When everything slows down, we become frustrated and seek reasons why the efficiencies of our systems are no longer in evidence.

It may  be that when there are breakdowns in the communication systems, upon which we have become dependent, we should see this as an opportunity to reflect upon the value of time. Perhaps occasionally moving at a slower pace might have benefits in encouraging us to be more thoughtful about the actions that we take and the words that we use.  However, having said this, I do hope not to have the frustration of being excluded from these pages again!

5 thoughts on “Gremlins in the works!

  1. Hi Richard – well written and amusing piece today! After I first met the woman who would later become my wife circumstances were such that we spent a year apart. She was in Canada and I was in Australia. In the pre-internet age phone calls were prohibitively expensive for our student budgets, so we communicated by almost daily letters. Reading two-week old news was never a problem! Now I think how easy it would have been with email and Skype, but somehow that process of physically writing, waiting, and receiving letters had an appeal all of its own. The year? As recently as 1991.

    • Hi Tim,
      Yes, there is still something special about receiving a letter, or even a simple postcard. I often wonder about whether in the future historians will have such rich sources of data. It is still possible to read significant archives of letters written by some of the most eminent writers, politicians or scientists of the past. Now all that remains are emails – most of which will most certainly be deleted.

  2. I too remember the delay factor involved in sending and receiving mail. Aero grams were the way I used to communicate from the UK to my mother and friends in Australia. These days with Facebook I have reconnected with school friends and regularly exchange messages through personal messaging. The time difference doesn’t seem to matter. My son and I were talking the other evening about the delay factor of various means of communication. If you wrote a letter or memo then regretted the content there was the opportunity to delay. He explained that he has set his email system so that it has a one minute delay whereby he can save himself from embarrassment by being able to retract something that could otherwise be sent in haste.

    • A one minute delay! There have been occasions when perhaps a couple of hours delay might have encouraged me to cool down before sending a message that ended up causing more trouble than it was worth!

  3. Ah he is obviously a child of the fast moving digital age. Alternatively he could have a mother who has always advocated counting to ten before acting. You are the professor so are best placed to identify the better answer – if not another that is even more apposite.

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