Friday, 11 September 2015

Playtime in an interconnected world

When I was a young boy, my teacher in St. Columbkille’s primary school came up with a clever plan to help introduce the concept of numbers to the infants in her charge. The idea was to talk about how numbers related to the latest in cutting edge technology. To this end she cheerfully pulled a large chunky phone out of a box and asked if any of the children knew their own phone number. Met with blank stares she then asked ‘How many of you have phones in your house.’ Silence. Still smiling she tried again: ‘Put your hands up if you have a phone in your house.’ 
This had a better response and a small scattering of children raised their arms. Amongst these was myself who had not yet learned to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. In all fairness a phone had briefly resided in our home. My father had brought it home from the pub he worked nights in (during the day he worked as a post man) and it sat in the hall for a couple of days, unused and unusable (there was nothing to plug it in to) before it vanished again.  

The teacher asked me, ‘Do you know your telephone’s number?’ and when I eagerly replied yes, I was invited up to dial it on the big chunky phone. I had great fun turning the disc with the holes in it with nary a thought about numbers or telecommunications. If I remember right, a fun morning was had by all as the teacher let everybody play with the phone regardless of whether their parents owned one or not.

Now of course, many years later, I stubbornly remain unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and I am still all eagerness and wonder when it comes to technology – even when (or perhaps especially when) I have not the slightest inkling of what, why or how some aspect of the Digital Age works. I just like the whole connectivity aspect of it, and leave the complicated stuff to those of a technical disposition.

I’m not unaware of the problems arising from new technology as I wrote in my poem With fifteen minutesand nothing much to do  and my article The Weight of Words: Handwriting in the Information Age. But just like the child and the phone dial, I still love the playfulness and fun of communicating and connecting. The latest piece of online fun I’ve been introduced to is Periscope as I explain in the following blog Up Periscope:Live broadcasts from Galway storytelling sessions  Have a read and see what yi think.

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For more about Rab's work as a storyteller, blogger, author, tutor and performer see rabfultonstories
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