Tweaking

I have been busy tweaking and working out the kinks in how to actually publish my books for editing here under the Books tab. I think I am very close to having a workable process. All I need now is for input from you out there the pre-reader/editors.

Remember, my plan is that this will not take a great deal of time out of your week. I am spreading this out by publishing only a couple of chapters a week. At the back end, I’m making some final edits, but will also be working hard to incorporate your inputs as we go.

I’ll have more work when it comes to Book Two which I split from the original main book. I am still not settled on the title and I’ll get to working that out an make suggestions for you to provide input on.

Editing and publishing a book on a WordPress website—what else is there to do during a pandemic?

Be Prepared!

I’m now living in my own future!

I trek on my path into the future; technology engulfs me and wraps around every aspect of my life; information is rampant and inundating. It is fun, but, have I been seduced and become addicted—numbed? Many problems plaguing humanity have been solved, or are being solved, but have other emerged? And then I wonder, do I understand this future life I now live? Am I in control and, am I actually more human? How does technology make me more or less human? How free am I? How can I prepare myself for the future and what can I expect?

As a child, I was a dreamer. Not only at night, I was a day dreamer. In my own world I dreamt of the future, a future where all humanity’s problems would be solved with technology—a sort of salvation by technology. Have you dreamed about or imagined what your future might be like?

I dreamt of space flight, robots, flying cars, the list was long. I let my imagination wander, fuelled by all the futurists writing books, movies and television shows I watched. The future was being painted with promises—a paradise of promises.

Eventually I began waking up. I can remember one particular morning I woke up and shouted in my mind, “This is the future! This is the time when so many of the promises I have been hearing for decades are supposed to be coming true.” Then I thought, “If this is the future I have been waiting for, where is it?” And finally I realized, “This is not the future I had been promised, this is not the future I have been expecting.” I thought more about how the future I am expecting just never seems to arrive. Then I asked myself, “So what does arrive?” I have discovered that the future never arrives, at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.

Welcome to the future—the paradise of promises. Are we living in a paradise? Have promises you heard in the past come true? Are things really better, or are they just different? Have problems of humanity been solved? Have we solved some problems and created others? 

“This is the future! This is the time when so many of the promises I have been hearing for decades are supposed to be coming true.”

Awed and amazed by the technologies around us we slip along the road of time. Look through your numbness. Do you find feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated? Has the promise that we would have a lot leisure time as our machines would do all our work, come true? This promise is still alive and kicking, making the rounds as if it is a new concept. The opposite seems the reality. 

Where are we now and to where are we sailing into the future on this technological tall ship? On deck the warm breezes and the blue seas are comforting until you go off course, or they suddenly rage. The sounds of a stream are calming and relaxing until the water floods. A forest can be quiet and inspiring, until you no longer know where you are. Watch your step. Observe carefully all around you, yet keep your eyes on the path.

Welcome to the start of a journey—a safari. To safari is to explore, to observe and experience. We are going to learn how to carefully look around, actually see what is happening and ask important questions. You will begin to think deeply and clearly about ways you are impacted by this world of technology and what the future could look like.

Technologies bring us many wonderful solutions to problems and give us some amazing capabilities. Yet, if we peek under the blankets, we find bedbugs hiding in the satin sheets. We want to explore what these bugs are and discover ways to better manage change and the technologies that touch our lives. 

Consider the spell checker on your computer. How good are your spelling skills these days? Does being able to spell even matter anymore? Can we learn to see where and how certain technologies, social media for example, are eroding and even robbing us of our humanness and humanity? Who are your real ‘Friends’? 

More serious is, how much are we tracked and surveilled? How safe is your personal information? How is your personal information and attention monetized by enormous powerful corporations? Can algorithms and corporations manipulate us? Is the Internet really knowledge at your fingertips?

Experts ask, “What are we gaining, what are we losing and what are we leaving behind?” Are we leaving behind aspects of our humanness and humanity? How does a particular technology make you more or less human? Ask yourself, “Do I really need it, and is this how I want my life to be?” Do you want to change the way a particular technology affects your life and help you to be more human?” Stop and consider some technologies, like E-mail or smartphones, and ask these same questions.

When you eat food that you purchase and possibly cook, you are impacted by many technologies. I argue that the very clothes on your back are technologies. What about language? That one is controversial. From a club to the most advanced of computer technologies, we need to learn how we can be more human in an often dehumanizing world of technology. 

Our journey will be difficult work and will require time and effort. The technological world we have created, or allowed to be created, it extremely complex and may be growing out of control. The overwhelming, anxious, even depressing feelings you experience set you off balance, whether you realize it or not. You are not meant to be stuck in anxiety and imbalance. This is dehumanizing. Therefore, it is extremely important to learn how to understand this world of technology and how to be more human.

Please, do not just passively read this book. Engage with it and stop to think deeply about the questions. There’s no rush to finish reading. Talk to other people about the issues and formulate your own conclusions.

We are enchanted, seduced and captivated by technology, swept away in a stream of amazement that becomes an overwhelming torrent of burden. Surrounded by devices that vie for attention, they ask that you give them more of your time. 

A smartphone, and other devices, are fascinating, and fun. Does the Internet seem like the window to all human knowledge, connecting us all together in one gigantic community? Look how you are in awe of the capabilities technologies bring into your life. See that you must be aware of and consider the ways technologies change and impact your life. Ask yourself if you are giving up the reins of your humanness and humanity by letting technologies takeover your life? Have you forgotten how to simply relax, think and imagine—letting your mind and spirit wander?

Will technological advancement slow down someday? Is there a ceiling to some aspects of technology, such as the speed of computer processors? What other inhibitors could arise to slow things down? Are you aware of movements toward a more organic lifestyle similar to the movement to organic foods? Would you join such a movement? Can we humans influence and alter the trajectory of technological change? Or will unbridled and unharnessed smart machines bring some unforeseen negative developments, even catastrophic results to humans? 

We need to learn to be more intentional with our use of technology and carefully appropriate technology into our lives. To learn how we can redeem and reclaim that which we may have lost, retain and maintain what we have today, and protect our humanness and humanity in the future by being human beings and living in a world of technology.

We are enchanted, seduced and captivated by technology, swept away in a stream of amazement that becomes an overwhelming torrent of burden.

The last hundred or more years have brought amazing technological change, even wonderful advancements. The past fifty years will pale in comparison to what is on the horizon of the future. Can we discover reasons for having hope for humanity? As long as there is time and a place to exist, the future is always coming. Keep in mind though, The Future Never Arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.

Expeditions, including safaris, all begin with a Basecamp. The first section of this book, Orientation, contains more about me (your guide) and the journey. You will also gain an overview of some meanings. For example, what do I mean by the term ‘technology’? Your experiences with this book will be more valuable if we are on the same page with these concepts. In the second section, Safari, I will guide you along a short safari. This will lead you to your own safaris as you continue on into the future of your life. The third section, Debrief, is a return to Basecamp for deeper discussions about many important issues involving the impacts of technologies on your life. This book does not propose solutions, although you will definitely come to some conclusions as to what you might do to take action in your own life.

While this book discusses many issues involving technology, the important primary focus to always consider is about being a human being. How can technology help you in being more human? When does technology dehumanize you? How can your life be improved through a better understanding of, and management of, the technologies in your life? 

How do technology corporation control and manipulate your life? Can you take back control of your life? How can you be prepared for the future? 

We are all hurling as a rocket into the future. Are you in control? Do you have a grasp of what to expect? When the unexpected comes along, what are the options? Can you unpack the baggage? Always remember, The Future Never Arrives—at least not as expected, and it always brings baggage. Be prepared!


Beginning

Beginning

The Future Never Arrives …At least not as expected and it always brings baggage

Being human better beings & living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

Being human better beings & living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

Samuel Butler:

“Darwin among the Machines” is the name of an article published in The Press newspaper on 13 June 1863 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Written by Samuel Butler, it warned of the possibility that machines were a kind of “mechanical life” undergoing constant evolution, and that eventually machines might supplant humans as the dominant species:

We refer to the question: What sort of creature man’s next successor in the supremacy of the earth is likely to be. We have often heard this debated; but it appears to us that we are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race.

Day by day, however, the machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophic mind can for a moment question.

Butler developed this and subsequent articles into The Book of the Machines, three chapters of Erewhon, published anonymously in 1872.

“There is no security”—to quote his own words—“against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organized machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time.

— More of this article can be found at the end of this book or on Wikipedia.

Is this our future? What might be unexpected in such a world? What might be the baggage?

The World Changed Overnight… 

The World Changed Overnight…

But not because of technology

We are about to talk about change. Change in what it means to be human. Change that results from technology that can seem rampant and out of control in nearly every aspect of our lives. Change which requires us to examine our humanness and humanity. While technology is usually involved, it is not always the main cause. Wars and natural disasters come to mind. In both books we shall discuss change.

I have been working on the books for some years. It is the constant editing that has held me up from publishing. The purpose for writing the books has been to mobilize us all to explore and examine our lives in this rapidly changing world of technology and what it means for us to be human beings in the midst of all this technology. 

I had gone from being an eager proponent of technology to being one who realized that we need to question technology and the technology companies — just as we expect our professional media outlets to question our governments for us. If we don’t, they have carte blanche to do as they wish, and that I fear, may be the state we are in. They can have the ability to track, trace, surveil, steal our private data and information, and to basically peer into every corner and aspect of our lives — stripping away our privacy, and controlling and manipulating our lives. That is only the beginning!

While I was editing my books of warnings, suddenly the world changed overnight. I awoke to discover a threat that was beginning to drench the world like a tsunami. A new virus was emerging in China and there seemed to be quite a fuss about it. At first, I wondered exactly what all the fuss was about. In following days and weeks I witnessed and experienced a shuttering of the entire world. Shuttering was a new word to me, at least I had never paid any attention to it before. The real world was closing up.

They were calling it a pandemic. I went into research mode to get familiar with that which was dominating the news and the world at an ever growing pace. The Coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 is a new virus with stealth abilities. What do you know, a stealth virus for a super technological age and a stealth Technojungle! What’s more, the primary up front weapon in this new combat is not tech related at all, it is to stay home and self-isolate, or self-quarantine if you may be a carrier. You can only go out for a short walk or to attempt to obtain suddenly hard to get necessities. 

Social distancing, or physical distancing, has become the most common buzzword in our daily vocabulary. We have to keep two meters away from anyone not in our household. 

Frontline workers on the battlefield include medical staff and those who provide the necessities of life, such as groceries. To these people a 7 o’clock nightly clamour rings out across the city in an untechnological banging of pots and pans, along with other noise making utensils, whistles and human hollers. It’s much like New Years Eve every evening. 

People everywhere are wearing face masks which have left Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in short supply to frontline medical workers. Suddenly everyone is desperate for, and knows what is, an N95 respirator or face mask. Hoarders buy up supplies of necessities, including PPEs, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.… and toilet paper. What! Toilet paper? Everything is difficult to obtain when out for our once-a-week one store only shopping trip. When you find a necessity, it’s buy all you can, if there are no restrictions in place. Stores have senior’s hours and everybody must line up two meters apart; only a few people are allowed in a store at a time.

It was a panic!

So you probably get a bit of the picture and you probably have lived through this pandemic anyway. But what has the pandemic got to do with these books?

All of a sudden the world finds that most of the technologies discussed in this book have become lifelines to the outside world. Our devices keep us informed and connected to our friends and relatives. 

When I set out years ago, I was endeavouring to have readers become more aware the impacts of technology on being human beings. To be aware of the tracking, tracing, surveillance, theft of their private data and information, and the lack of privacy in their lives, along with other potential dangers of living in a technology dominated world. The pandemic shifted things as I never expected. How can I argue that we should slow down and understand how these technologies that pervade our lives are affecting us in being human beings when the technologies have become ever more important and are demonstrating themselves to be indispensable during the pandemic? 

In some ways I feel we have been swept away. Away in some convenient twist of our arms. Away to leap into living deeper in this technological world. Away giving even more power to those who control technologies. Away into needing technology to assist us through difficult times, if not desperate times. There are definitely positives to technology assisting us. But there are also downsides. Certainly the issues I focus on in these books are even more critical and we should still take care when we can. 

I am amazed at how some musicians are able to use everything from a built in webcam on their computer, to a home audio studio to collaborate with others to make virtual recordings. In any recording setting, getting sound balance and other aspects of performing music right are difficult and require expertise. I imagine doing it with remote connections must be extremely difficult. I’ve seen choirs performing with each singer in a separate box on my screen as they sing from their home, and the sound is excellent. There are concerts done with performers all over the world. The logistics are baffling to me. Yet it is done and it is in so many way humanizing as we feel connected. Without the curtain of this pandemic, would we feel so connected by these technologies? It is far less engaging and humanizing than being there live. Still, the pandemic makes it seem so wonderful.

I have two people working from home and one is also in university. They have meetings online and collaborate on projects everyday. They work in a variety of places in the house, sometimes even in bed, or while eating a meal. When break time comes they go for a run or indulge in weightlifting in the driveway gym set up everyday. My wife does webinars and shops online, jumping from one website to another just as she used to go from store to store as a busy bee to flowers. I know, I am the driver and the sampler. She shops, I sample. You must understand, my wife is what I would call a professional shopper having grown up in a general store. She loves to hop from store to store. Now she does it online, but it is a struggle because she is developing tech-savvy skills and she often ends up just phoning. Her visits to a real store often amount to nerve wracking escapades with a possible meltdown on the way home.

One point I should make is that it is difficult to know what is accurate information. Rumours spread along with disinformation. Everybody has the capability of giving advice that spreads online like wildfire, even the experts change their minds about things like wearing a face mask. More than ever it is difficult to determine what is true and accurate, as even the mainstream can be seem questionable.

In this surreal dreamlike new pandemic world, the economy has been allowed to collapse as businesses close. After many long weeks of government handouts and bailouts, there is talk of reopening. Many people are becoming mentally stressed. Domestic violence is on the rise. Summer is on the way. Businesses are on the verge of dying. But it seems to me this pandemic has benefited the technology companies. Technology comes out ahead as if by some design.

We are being told that this is the new normal, at least until well after a vaccine has been developed. That we should expect a second and even a third wave of the virus. I wonder though if this is a new normal for living even more online and less face-to-face. Will the fear of being close to each other even disappear someday? Will we simply replace our human personal encounters with living virtually in our technobubbles where we are safe from infection? Will we face unimaginable virtual infections? Will people revolt over the disruption, control and manipulation of their lives? What does all this mean for our humanness and humanity?

I’m watching closely because this is like a world war, and world wars change the world and the people. Our enemy is invisible and cunning. Knowing a pandemic can happen at any time may lead us to cautious living and deeper reliance on and acceptance of more technology, and even more powerful technology corporations running our lives.

Experts tell us that nothing like this pandemic has happened since World War II. That war ushered in the Computer Age, the Nuclear Age, the Space Age, and spawned a plethora of other technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which most of us carry around in our purses and wallets.

Hold on! It seems the COVID confinement has cause stresses. People are exhibiting fatigue over socializing online. They venture out against the guidelines of experts. As Summer approaches, restrictions are being lifted to allow people some freedom, but mostly to get economies revived somewhat. 

An African American black man was killed by a police officer, as the world watched, igniting racial tensions around the world buried for decades. The tensions echoed around the world with violent protests ignoring the pandemic altogether and causing further disruption and domination of the daily news. The world is obviously on edge.  

There is a future, but for most people it is an unexpected one with changes that pale considerably to anything seen before. We are watching, experiencing, and living it as it unfolds and we can’t sleep through it, we must be awake and aware.

I hope this book can help you to understand how your humanness and humanity are impacted by technology and even the pandemic. We do need to proceed with awareness and caution. The future depends on us being human beings and living in a world of technology.

Acknowledgments & Origins

Acknowledgments & Origins

I wish to deeply thank Dr. Rev. Ed Hird for reading my blog and remarking that I, “…seem to have an ambivalence toward technology.” He got me writing more about my love/hate relationship with technology exploring what that really meant to me.

When Ed Hird suggested I pursue the writing of this book, I had no idea of how to go about this sort of project. I had done some journalism and an extensive background in printing and publishing, however, a book was another matter. I was having fun though writing my blog and felt this project could allow me to blend my writing, photography and graphics backgrounds and interests.

For months I dictated thoughts into a recording app on my phone and then transcribed material which I then expanded on in various writings. I explored my past experiences and observations and opened my eyes and ears to what was happening around me everyday. I began to organize my writings into what seemed orderly for the book.

The book grew and grew. Soon I was juggling an unwieldily amount of material. I was overwhelmed.  I separated out what I felt was not necessary and decided to somewhat start over. 

Life in this technological world gets busy. Finding time to write a book can be difficult. I found I was procrastinating and the book was not moving along. I decided to follow advice I had heard about writing. Write everyday at the the same time in the same place and if nothing comes to mind, just write anyway. I decided to write for one hour a day. I found that the book chapters were accumulating with an hours worth of typed words. I could write a chapter and edit it the next day. This became my process and motto—write a book in an hour a day.

I was not about to write this book by pen and paper, so the computer became an important tool. I was already using a journaling application called MacJournal to write entries for my blog. However, a book would need something different. I had acquired some software cheaply in a bundle, so I already knew about the writing application Scrivener. I decided to give it a whirl. I wanted to also do the layout, but, I had no software for this enormous task and was not willing to shell out outrageous funds to upgrade the outdated software I used to use, nor move to the current industry standard which required a costly rental scheme. 

Along the journey of working on the book, I got involved in a small publishing venture which allowed me get familiar with some available graphics and publishing software. While I did find some graphics applications that were quite capable, and I found a page layout program for the project I was involved with, there seemed to be nothing for a larger project. 

A couple of the graphics applications I ended up using were not only quite powerful, the company was producing both desktop and iPad versions that were winning awards. In addition, they were promising a publishing program that would complete a triad of applications which would compete with the finest and most powerful professional software.

This book was written in Scrivener. The graphics and page layout was handled using Affinity Photo,  Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher. The Affinity products have all been developed as I wrote the book. As I was nearing the time to begin thinking about laying the book out,  Affinity Publisher for desktop went into open beta. I had signed up to be a beta tester, so I figured a good way to learn the software and provide beta feedback would be to start on the book.

I won’t say it was easy, but a late night got me several pages and a good design. Despite being and early beta version, Affinity Publisher was remarkably powerful, but not without a few beta quirks. It did have a wonderful feature that was perfect for stylizing the sidebars I had written. I was also able to produce a pull quote design that I had in mind. This all came together in several hours.

It was easy to select fonts. I wanted to use the font I first favoured while learning printing back in the 1970s. Garamond is a great font for body copy created by engraver Claude Garamond in the mid-1500s. Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith had invented the first printing press using movable type in 1439, so Garamond dates back to early days of original letterpress printing soon after the printing press was developed. It is warm, friendly, and reflects human handcrafted creativity. 

I wanted a non serif (san serif) font for headings, pull quotes and sidebars. In recent years I came across Avenir. I liked it as an alternative to the overused Helvetica and Futura, which I liked to use in my early days of typesetting. It was also a good alternative for Fruitiger, which I had used a couple of decades ago. It turns out that Avenir was developed by Adrian Frutiger the same person who developed the font Frutiger. Avenir is a humanist font which harkens back to first Roman typefaces created by Venetian printers. I was certainly delighted realized that the word Avenir is French for Future.

I would also like to thank a number of other people who did some early proof reading which helped me in improving my writing and in shaping the book.