I love my magic techno-box...most of the time. It does what I do very well, until this morning, when it informed me upon startup that its Spooler SubSystem Application has a problem. It may as well have spoken to me in Farsi.
You don't care what's wrong with my computer. Actually I really don't, either. I will take it to a very nice young man and he will make it better, end of story. My thought today is on the dependence I've developed with technology and the fact that authors are ruled so completely by something most of us don't understand. I'll speak for myself, but I know there are lots of others like me out there.
In the first place, I'm old. Technology really isn't fun for me, and while I master what I must, I have no interest in the finer points of websites, Twitter, and iPod. The language of geeks frustrates me, and I prefer that they just shut up and do what they do rather than explain.
In the second place, the industry itself doesn't know which way to go. Publishers are torn. Some hold desperately to tradition while others try to guess what will grab the next generation of readers. We all know it has to be immediate and cool, but we don't know whether that's Kindle or a kiosk where a book is downloaded, printed and handed to the customer, or something else. Google's recent settlement with the Author's Guild suggests hopeful possibilities for writers, especially those with out-of-print books, but it's all digital, all cyber-space, all kind of spooky to those of us who still read with a book in hand.
Then there are the legality issues. What's piracy, whom do we punish, and how do we catch them? Does piracy really hurt sales? Would those who steal an artist's work spend their money for the product anyway?
Every advance in technology seems to help those who want us to work for free, and every protection that is invented seems destined to be broken, bypassed, and overcome.
I see technology as like the Force in STAR WARS. It can be used for good or for evil. The good it can do amazes me. I use it every single day, and I can't remember what I did before it was available. The bad? I just can't worry about it. Any tool can become a weapon in the wrong hands. Every one of us must do what she can to avoid the Dark Side, and remember to let the Force guide you. If the young man in the computer store looks a little like Yoda, I'll understand.