Infinite Scrolling

Friday, 26 January 2018

Private but public: how social media is changing the way we communicate.

We broadcast our communications.

This is what we do when we communicate on social media.

So, when replying to a message or initiating a message we are thinking about how many people it is going out to.

This is an entirely different way of communicating, as compared to a conversation in real life group or a one-to-one conversation on a phone.

Notifications on our smart phone (see my blog post 'The ever changing telephone') are ever urging us to reply. Our desire is to be nice to other people and on an app this desire is served only by sending a reply. The response may be just an emoticon. But reply we must.

One message and replies start pouring in from other members in our group. Urging us to reply again. The ever-increasing replies and messages keep us engaged. (see my blog post 'Changing greetings').

It is so easy to allow more people to send direct one-to-one messages to you. Sending messages is also now so easy. Along with being members of social media groups we are also having numerous one-to-one messaging going on.

If we start accepting messages from a person it seems rude not to reply. This is so even though we may be aware that the other person is broadcasting the messages to a large number people. We may not always reply to such messages. But they accumulate in our inbox. They sort of expect to be replied to.

Our behavior on social media is ever being observed. There is a lingering thought we carry about consequences of replying or not replying to a particular message on our social media group. We feel that a reply or even a non-reply may affect our relationship in some manner. Our mind is mulling over such matters often. Responding to the compulsion to reply and the consequence of not replying.

In the pre social media era, we communicated to people in our vicinity. Now we communicate to people around the globe.

A huge scaling up of our communication sphere.

Every person in the group is alone. Every person in the group is talking to many. In very large groups it sometimes feels that we are in a frenzy of communication.

We spend a considerable amount of time looking at our screens.

Though we are sitting in our private spaces but our messaging is public.

We live in an ever connected world.

A private world connected always to the public world.

A world communicating to us and expecting and cajoling us to reply.

All the time.

Renewing skills: how a little re-skilling can go a long way.

Renewing skills

Apps whether on smartphones, tablet or computers have become an inseparable part of our lives. Most of us use messaging and social apps. And using them has become second nature for many of us. Interestingly most people are able to learn the use of such apps intuitively, without any need for formal training.

Email and messaging apps make it easy for us to share picture and documents.

To make the best use of the email app we need to know how to type.

Knowing how to type is a useful skill. Specially if you would like to write a blog or to type out your own documents. Luckily typing tutors are available on the internet. One can self learn to type using one of these (see my blog post 'A way to learn').

If you want to publish your own blog, then again there are a variety of software available. For example, I am using the app and it is quite easy to use.

For using this blogging app you do not have to know any coding or programming.

This was not the case in the past.

Just 20 years back, to be able to make a blog, you had to know some amount of coding . Or know how to upload material  onto a website. You had to get a blogging website made or make it yourself.

Today you simply sign up onto a blogging platform and you are on your way. Being able to do this on your own is much easier now.

Likewise, if instead of a blog you want to type out some documents, software for this is also now easily available online. You can create your documents online and also save them online.  One advantage of putting your documents on the internet is that you can access them wherever you are.

Another very useful software available is for creating spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets are a powerful tool, especially where calculations are needed. The knowledge of using spreadsheets, therefore, comes in very handy. A spreadsheet once set up with all the calculations will replicate them accurately. I use Google Drive for making online documents and spreadsheets.

For example a simple task like marking and totaling the attendance of students in a class. Once the formulas for totaling are set up, all you need is to enter the attendance and the spreadsheet will compile the figures automatically.

Or say if you are investing and you want to tabulate your data for investing (See my blog post 'From paper to pixels'). A spreadsheet makes such tabulation easy. It allows you to copy and paste data available on the net, it allows you to  make automatic calculations using this data and draw your own conclusions.

Learning how to use a spreadsheet also allows you to do much more in the same time. Imagine having to do calculations over and over again. A tiring task.

Saving documents is another task we do quite often. Earlier, before the advent of the latest apps which are now available to us, the only way to save a copy of a document used to be to make a photocopy and then to file it. This meant that there had to be a proper filing system, with an index, which allowed you to access the document when you needed it. At times, we had to carry the file of the photocopied documents with us to other places. We would also send photocopied documents by post when they were needed elsewhere.

Sharing was a manual process. Subsequently, with the scanners coming in we could just scan the documents and send them as an attachment to an email. Sharing of documents moved from manual to digital. The scanned copy could be stored in your laptop or on a CD.

Documents stored in this manner became easily searchable and accessible.

Now we have storage of documents available on the internet. There are various storage options available which allow you to upload your documents. One such storage option is Google Drive. These documents once uploaded are always available to you as long as you are connected to the internet. They are easy to find and share.

Scanning apps, which are free and scan documents using the smartphone camera, have further eased the scanning and sharing of documents. Messaging apps now allow you to send documents, so we needn't even email them anymore. Scanning, storing and sharing is all possible through your smartphone. 

Most organizations have shifted to digital means for their internal functioning. Office work is done through some type of office automation packages running on networks.

The ability to be able to type is central to the use of such automation packages. Even though there are now software available which convert your speech to type written matter, still being able to type yourself remains a crucial skill.

Younger people who have grown up with the new technology around them have adapted to it and are able to benefit. The older generations, however, need to renew their skills to make the most of the new technology (see my blog post 'The beginning of a lifelong friendship with my computer'). Such re-skilling will lead to empowering oneself. Will lead to being able to use technology to ease-out life’s routine and repetitive tasks.

A few skills, if learnt, make it easy for you to use technology.

The best part of trying to re-skill is that one can learn through the internet. So there is no need to join a formal course. Though formal training is always an option.

So if you are interested in re-skilling yourself I would recommend that you learn how to touch type, learn how to use a spreadsheet, learn how to scan documents and store them in a cloud storage, learn how to use software which allows you to upload and download documents, if you want to write a blog like this one you would have to learn how to use a blogging software.

Going a step further you could buy a domain name of your choice and link it to your blogging software. I have done that and my blog is connected to my domain

A little renewing of skills may enrich your life and make many of your tasks easier and enjoyable.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

From paper to pixels: how technology is empowering the way we invest.

The stock market was an enigmatic and appealing place to invest. So in the mid eighties   I decided to try it out. We could buy and sell by visiting the broker's office, where a slip was filled out for the transaction, the broker invested on your behalf. Once you got to know the broker well, a deposit could be made and transactions could then be done on telephone. Though telephones, being fixed line, insisted that you walk to them unlike the mobile phones, which are always with you (See my blog-post 'The ever changing telephone') . The whole process of investing took time. It could not be hastened.

The shares and stocks which you purchased came by post.

Information for investment decisions was gleaned from newspapers. Not much information. The broker would give some tips and recommendation. The broker had all the information and you had all the risk.

In this manner I traded on the stock exchange for one complete year. At the end of that year there was no gain at all.

I left investing in stocks.

And never invested again.

Till now.

A few months back I activated my De-mat (De-materialized) account.

I remembered the lack of information of my earlier experience of many years back. And, therefore,  decided to read about investing.

There was a lack of information then. Now there was a flood. Easily available thanks to the internet. The way we sought and read information and learnt has now changed (See my blog post 'A way to learn'). Earlier we sought information no information seeks us.

Having read about value investing. Which, I found appealing, I decided to invest.

I took the plunge. The broker has now become a software, the De-mat account. Investing is no longer a mystery. Shares and stocks move into your account and out of it digitally. Everything is recorded instant to instant. Trips to the broker have been replaced by clicks on the computer keyboard. The fixed line telephone has become a smartphone (see my blog post 'The ever changing telephone'). We used to speak to the broker on the fixed line telephone and now the broker speaks to us digitally, instant to instant, through an app on our smartphone.

Earlier the broker had the information, and we had the risk. Now we have both the information and the risk.

Investing has moved from paper to pixels.

Made possible by technology.

A way to learn: how technology is helping us learn.

I always wanted to learn to type. We had a nice typewriter at home. A portable one. These were the days before the arrival of the personal computer. Learning how to type required following a printed typing tutoring sheet. Typing out the letters repeatedly would usually lead to mastering this skill. I could however never learn to type in this manner. The mechanical typewriter was, it seems, just not my cup of tea. Not withstanding this, I still wanted to learn to type. So it remained a lingering desire to be taken care of at some later time.

Then came along the personal computer. (See my blog post 'The beginning of a lifelong friendship with my computer'). This changed everything. The personal computer came with a typing tutor. Follow the alphabet on the screen and typing on the keyboard made learning to type more like a game. A skill learning game. I had given up learning on the mechanical typewriter and now I found myself being able to type within a span of a week. Not very fast, but to slowly touch type without looking at the keys. Technology empowered me. Being able to type myself was really useful and remains so till date. Now it is hardwired and fingers type without thinking. To be able to think and type straight onto the screen is a sort of creative flow from the mind to the document through your fingers. I recommend it strongly if you have yet to experience this flow. It is an option to writing on paper.

Recently I decided to learn how to play the piano. I remembered how the personal computer and the typing tutor software had allowed me to learn to type all those years back. So I started looking around for a suitable software. To my delight I found apps available which once downloaded would listen to the notes being played on the piano keyboard and record them as correct or wrong. So my learning with help of technology started once again. The numerous videos available online also helped me in learning. This is the new way of learning. And it is wonderful.

Though unlike typing where we have the backspace button to correct our miss types, a mistake while playing the piano is there for everyone to hear!

Now we have new way to learn. It has been around for a time. It is a new freedom. A new freedom through technology.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Changing greetings: how technology is making us change the way we send greetings.

Beautiful greeting cards delivered by the postman. This is how we would receive our seasons greetings. A hand written messages, some of them in neat and flowing writing, would add its own flavor to the cards.

An urgent greeting would be sent by telegram, not very often though, as this mode of communication would not always carry good news.

When greetings were received by post; the opening of the envelope, the feel of the paper, the reading of the message took some time, and give some lingering joy. The replies would also be given through special thank you cards or through greeting cards. The messages we wrote were deliberate. They were hand written. A dictionary or thesaurus being referred to ,at times, to ensure correct expressions and correct spellings.

This is an experience which is now replaced by instant greetings. Delivered in your messaging inbox in an instant (see my blog post 'Private but public'). Replied also in an instant. The reply usually being a 'cut and paste' reply or an 'image forward'. Automatic spell checks and automated word selection suggestions making it still easier.

While earlier we would wait for replies to reach us by post in some time. Now we check our smartphones, moment to moment, to see the status of both our messages and our replies.

The leisurely pace of greetings has been replaced by instant greeting and instant gratification.

Technology has for ever changed the way we send and receive greetings.

From slow and leisurely to super-fast and instant.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Navigation then and now: how technology has changed the way we navigate.

Having a car while in UK, where we had gone for a year's stay, in the early eighties and being able to travel and see the country was exhilarating.

So when we got some time from our work my wife and I were ready for a trip. We had a nice and comfortable car. Having planned our road trip to the last detail, we took off.

To keep our budget under control we had taken the help of our family to find known people with whom we could stay and save on hotel bills.

The addresses neatly written out we planned to reach the first place using a map in a tourist guide book.

We reached the outskirts of the town by late evening and had to stay in a hotel as we could not find the place using the basic map in the tourist book.

We realized that we needed a better map. A hard lesson as the hotel bill made an unplanned dent in our tight budget.

So en-route to the next town we looked for a good map at a book shop at a Lay Bye, a stop over by the motorway.

That is for the first time we came across a map book called A to Z. It had detailed maps with page numbers linked to other pages. So over a cup of tea we sat down and using a felt pen made a line from page to page right up-to the address we had to reach.

With this we were able to reach right till the door of the house we were looking for.

The map and street markings were so good that we did not have to ask for directions at all. It was a very satisfying feeling to have been able to do that.

From then on in all our travels we did this with great success.

We still depend on this good old technique, of paper map books, though now most of the navigation is done by our smartphone which speaks to us through its automated voice!

From silent maps we have moved to talking maps.

How technology is easing our lives.

The anonymity of talking in public

There was a time when we wanted to talk about a private issue in public we would go to a place where we could talk about it outside of earshot of other people.

This was before the advent of the mobile phone.

Quite often it is absolutely normal for people to talk about anything within earshot of others.

While traveling on long distance bus journeys I have had the chance of listening to a variety of sales persons giving detailed feedback of their activities without any concern about who is listening.

It is the anonymity of talking in public!

A new phenomenon brought about by the easy availability of mobile phones.

Tenets I followed: Facts not opinion