Sunday, July 18, 2010

This is scary...

I think we first had some sort of Internet access in 1989. And for a good deal of the time since then I've been playing various games on the Net: chess, Scrabble and some few others. These aren't 'real time' games; the chess, for instance, was more like the old system of correspondence chess that my father used to play back in the 30s and 40s. It could take days then for each move while they waited for a letter to come by return post. It was similar with the online chess: occasionally someone would respond to your move straight away; most of the time it was at least a day before you'd see a response.

I used to play chess regularly, and occasionally won, but for some reason gave it up. But I've played Scrabble on various sites over the years pretty much continually ever since I first discovered you could play it online.

And this was the case up until a couple of months ago. At that point I must have had some complete mental blank in regard to Scrabble, or else got so tied up with something else that lesser things went out of my head. Anyway, last week, out of the blue, it suddenly struck me that I hadn't played Scrabble for a little while. It turned out that I hadn't actually played it since May. When I went back into the games (there were three unfinished ones) one of the players thought something must have happened to me - we tend to let each other know if we're going to be away for a few days. Another player who has shared quite a bit of 'conversation' with me in the course of the games, has obviously thought something similar, as she hasn't started up the game again since I wrote to apologise the other day.

The scary part is that I didn't miss the playing. Not that I'm some Scrabble addict, but it's been one of the things I do regularly online.

How can part of your brain just ignore something you've done for so long?

On another tack completely. I'm not a person who needs to be in the start-up stage of any innovation, especially in the technological area (although we were amongst the first people to get email in Dunedin when it was available). Consequently, when I ran the shop it was quite some time before we went over to a Point of Sale system. By the time we'd got the Board to agree to the idea, and had got the money together, POS systems had been around for years.

I'd been thinking about the possibility for some time before that, of course, and saw the advantages. Mostly it was the lack of finance (a perennial problem in that shop) that left us way behind. And even when we did get into it, we went for a system which proved to be somewhat limited as the years rolled on. It worked in terms of recording stock and keeping track of sales and all the usual stuff; it just wasn't very sophisticated, and it was built for a different kind of retail system to bookselling.

Some years later one of the other Christian bookshops in the country (they're few enough for us all to have known each other, pretty much) did get innovative, and they brought someone in to build a POS system from scratch. When we shifted over to it, it turned out to be pretty amazing - certainly as compared to the system we'd been on. But the curious thing about it, I found, was that the people who'd built it never used it to its full capacity. In fact, we used it far more extensively than they did.

I don't know what point I'm trying to make here. It's just a bit of anecdotal history, I guess! I've always been intrigued by cataloguing things - used to try and do it with pen and paper when I was a child (all my books had 'codes' inside their covers) and in a way, I think humans have this kind of inbuilt desire to bring a sort of order to what seems to be a rather chaotic world. Some of us are more prone to cataloguing than others, perhaps. I know the rest of my family doesn't seem interested in the idea very much.

I have a feeling I'm trying to add some focus here, but it's eluding me. Maybe it connects up with my seeming mental block in regard to Scrabble. If we don't order things, we lose them. Not sure if this is the point I'm trying to make. Maybe I'll come back to it later!
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