Me + Technology: The Evolution


Way back in high school, I had a few large scale papers that had to be typed. I didn't know how to type, so my mom typed those papers for me on a real, actual typewriter. I was seriously technology dumb at the time. Even a typewriter was over my head. My family didn't have cell phones back in the 80's or early 90's, so I wasn't even familiar with those thingies.

My first real exposure to technology came after I joined the Army. It was 1994 and I was stationed at the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida. My Army unit flew spy planes and we were given a mission to support the impending invasion of Haiti which was dubbed Operation Restore (Uphold) Democracy. My unit would be flying our manned spy planes to supply the ground invasion force -- the Marines -- with real-time intelligence.

I was assigned to what's called an Emergency Operation Center (EOC). We manned a the EOC 24-hours a day, seven days a week as we prepared for the mission and the early months of execution. I had all sorts of jobs, many of which involved computers. I'm embarrassed to say, I had little to no exposure to computers at that point. And I managed to lock up and crash nearly every single computer I touched. I ended up spending a lot of time shredding classified documents, since I couldn't break those machines.

What's especially ironic about my bumpy start in the world of technology is that I now work for a software company and train other people to use our content engagement and design tools. I spend all day, every day on a computer. I teach with a computer. I troubleshoot technical system and software issues. I makes sure my customers can get their newspapers out on time as they transition from their old publishing system to ours.

I never planned on having a career in technology. My degree is in journalism and I spent my early career as a reporter and editor. But as the newspaper landscape changed it became clear that if I wanted stability, I might have to change careers. Rather than leaving the news business all together -- I love, love newspapers -- I found a job that combined newspapers and technology.

In a given month, I travel to various newspapers around the world, conduct training sessions and then start the process of transitioning the staff onto our software. I stay there and hold their hand as they produce their pages the new way. I make sure advertisements make it into our database. I ensure pages can be typeset. I verify plates are made and hung on the presses. And if there is any sort of hiccup along the way, I have to untangle the mess and make it work.

It's not really the technology part of my job I love. It's the puzzle part that makes my heart sing. Every week is a new site with new people; and every is a different set of issues to solve. Rarely are two days in my work life the same. It's like I'm given a new crossword puzzle each day and I have a deadline to finish it.

With each passing year I become more and more technologically savvy. I'm quite plugged in. Too much so. Laptops, iPhones, iPads, chats, audiobooks, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, blogging... and the list goes on and on. I've even stopped doing physical scrapbooking and have opted for doing all my memory keeping digitally.

In recent months I've tried to force myself to take a step back and reduce the amount of time I spend using technology as well as my family. I canceled our cable, so we watch less TV. I stop working at 4 p.m. and close my laptop. I don't let myself open it up again until the kids go to bed.

I feel like there are lots of days that technology is taking over our lives. My kids are addicted to screen time. They literally crave it. It's so different from when I was a kid and couldn't even use a typewriter. Heck, I still can't type. I hunt and peck. I guess some things will never change.

Written as an assignment for Ali Edwards’ class “31 Things” at Big Picture Classes.