Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Lesson Learnt!

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My wife and I know an American lady about 75 years old who owns a small business. She calls herself a computer illiterate. She has employed an office assistant who prints out her emails. She goes through the print out and writes the reply to it and gives it to the assistant to type it and send the reply back to the email. Sometimes the lady types email in an old typewriter in her office and gives it to her assistant who will retype all those and send the email. I asked her once - "If you could type in an old typewriter then why can’t you do it in a computer? It is at least 1000 times easy".She replied “I am used to typewriter and I feel more comfortable with it”.
I thought she was really silly to use the typewriter rather than computer to compose her mails. I even thought how foolish people can be.
I have been in graduate school from 2001 to 2007 and I used to take courses from 2001 to 2005. It is almost 5 years since I took any course from my school. Now my wife is studying in the same school doing her Masters. I am shocked to see the advancement in the use of technology in the last 2 years in my school.
I have never seen my wife use paper or pen/pencil to write anything. Everything is done using computers – assignments, exams, projects. I have taken about 18 courses in my school and in all those courses I wrote all the exams in paper using a pencil. My wife writes all the exams in Microsoft Word! The professor uploads the question paper online at the time of exam. You need to log in, download the question paper and then use MS Word to write the exam. I can’t even imagine solving a math problem for an exam in MS Word. It is just not possible for me.
My wife just loves this way of writing exam and one day she asked me “when you have a laptop it is 1000 times easy to write the exam using that, rather than using paper and pen”. My wife gave me the same look I gave to that lady when she told she prefers typewriter to computers. For my wife I have become so old fashioned that I still prefer to write the exam the traditional way. The same way I thought about that 75 year old lady.
After this incident I could appreciate what the old lady told me. When I started my MS in US, a laptop, a cell phone, a wireless internet connection were something we couldn’t even dream of. Now it is so common and it is tough for the old generation people to really get deep into it.
I am pretty sure that from now onwards if someone says that he/she prefers to use an old technology to a new advanced one I will not look down on them.
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Anonymous mani said...



April 22, 2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger silverine said...

It is early days for technology itself. Soon we will have technology that is friendly towards elders. There are companies who are already working towards it. Some websites offer large fonts for older people. I guess there will always be some people who cannot keep pace with the changing world. And I think the right thing to do under this circumstance to make the change easier on them.

Nice to see you blogging again! :)

April 22, 2008 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't agree more with Mani.. :D.. Claims to be a PhD but can't take a computer based exam.. :D.. ho!!! Can't even believe it!!! I am shocked!!!! ;)..

April 22, 2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous sarath said...

Maybe the technology is not that advanced in all the departments or rather what you said cannot be equally true for all the areas. As far as I know, in EE/MSE department all the exams/assignments are still in paper/pencil. According to me it will really take much more than Microsoft Word to actually replace paper/pen in terms of writing a whole exam with more than 50% of the lines being equations and some quick pencil sketches.

Also, I can't even think of say a 2 hour exam where the students is being tested on his typing+MSWord+MSPaint+his subject skills...and the occasional patience testing when he has to confront the inevitable bluescreen of death :P!!!

April 22, 2008 4:55 PM  
Blogger Supertramp said...


True, we shouldn't look down on anyone, for that fact, who is old school/technologist; I might say, it depends on what you trying to accomplish. Sometimes old habit works & in other times our newly developed skills work; at the end of the day what really matters is whether we made a difference in a positive way or not. Trust me, I recently learned this from an old schooler !
good thoughts, keep blogging

April 25, 2008 2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people keep calling you Nair? :-O

April 27, 2008 7:24 AM  
Blogger Dr Brijesh Nair said...

You forgot that you are just 2 years younger to me.

The changes are happening so fast. That is the problem.

Anon@ 6.49 AM
I am talking about subjective exams and not an objective exam

When my wife was doing MS in bioengineering she did the usual stuff with exams. But since she joined the bioinformatics department this kind of things happen. Most of her teachers are medical doctors.

Yes we should never look down on anyone.

Anon 11.24 PM
My Name is Brijesh Nair there are lot of my friends in Arizona who calls me “Nair”

April 27, 2008 7:32 AM  
Anonymous rathi said...

your blog has certainly provoked a thought whether good handwriting will not have any value and will get obscured in this technological development. handwriting was also one of the aspects in judging a student as well as an employee in the older days.However we have to welcome the change in view of the fast reforms in the educational and working spheres.

May 02, 2008 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing that you might forgot to refer in your article is that even at this old age, she does communication using latest technology, like email - although indirectly which might not be wanted by old people in india. Rather, they prefer prabhu bhakti(prayer to god). So, what I mean to say is people should stay active even after his/her retirement.


May 23, 2008 2:09 AM  

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