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.

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Comment by Peg Herring on January 30, 2009 at 10:01pm
Thanks, John, but as I could have predicted, after going to the site and laboriously copying down exactly what it said to do to fix the problem, I got to a point where what they said would happen didn't happen, and that leaves me without further options. As I said, it isn't fun for me and I get to a point where it just isn't worth making myself frustrated over. That nice young Yodaman at the repair shop has so much more fun with it than I would!
Comment by John Dishon on January 29, 2009 at 10:50pm
I think your computer problem is a printer error. Here is a link that might help you fix it without getting someone else to do it: http://www.ehow.com/how_4450653_troubleshoot-spooler-subsystem-app-...

Even if that link doesn't help you fix your problem, it is a good illustration of why so many people are no good with technology: they don't try to be. I'm pretty young; my I was using a computer in the first grade so I guess I have a different perspective on the subject. But one can learn a lot about computers or any other technology if one takes the time to experiment with it, and a quick search on the internet can often turn up a solution. The link I provided took me three seconds to find.

Some people just don't care about learning this stuff, though, which is fine. But yeah, I agree with your last paragraph. It's the user who controls technology, not the other way around. Although technology is often used as a scapegoat.

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