Thursday, 20 January 2011

Words in the cloud

The working week has slipped by rather quickly. Monday I woke up with sufficent energy to go for a jog, only the second time since we moved, and really quite enjoyable as it wasn't too cold. Tuesday evening's Chi Gung session was energetic and stimulating, but as a result I stayed up too late didn't sleep too well, and woke up late and tired on Wednesday. Today I went to the mid morning Mass at St John's Canton. If I eventually succeed in rising earlier, I'll have a go at attending early Masses in the Parish or at the Cathedral.

I think jet lag is still disrupting my efforts to make a good start to the day at first light, and the same is true for Clare. I also went into the office, afternoons, to catch up on all the accumulated unfinished business of more than a month away, but summoning the concentration for that kind of work is less that easy. Nevertheless, I have managed to write four hundred new words a day, either morning or evening. Getting my thoughts out into a place where I can later recall them and reckon with them is the most important thing - out of the assorted jumble of reflections made I hope structure and content will eventually emerge.

After the first couple of writing sessions, I made a change in my work method. In the course of any week I expect to use four different computers, and since three of them dual boot Linux and Windows, I could be using a word processor and saving new text in one of seven different file system locations. Sure, I could save it all to the flash drive I habitually carry in my pocket, but what if I forget to move it from one set of clothes to another, or leave it in the office? Answer: use an internet file location. Or, put it up in 'The Cloud' as the latest techy jargon refers to this. And why not?

Google Docs has been around for several years, offering a web-based word processor for a consistent editing experience wherever you can log into your Google account from a browser. I've used it on occasions before, but always carried a flash drive with a work archives on it to and from church. I never had reason to put stuff on Google Docs, until now. As a Google fan I can honestly say that none of my ten thousand plus emails sent, received and retained has been lost since I opened my first Gmail account this month four years ago,. The same is true of thousands of photos stored in Google's Picasa web albums, begun nine months earlier than that. It's also five years and five months since I posted my first blog on 'Edge of the Centre'. So I'm giving Google Docs a try - and so far, so good. 

Google's on-line editing software feels better in use than it once did. It works well so long as there's a decent stable broadband connection, not necessarily high speed. Now I can work in writing with ideas wherever there's a computer with internet. If I want someone to look at a text with me, I can send them a sharing link, give them editing privileges. But apart from that the work is not for show in the way a blog posting is.  The possibility of publication is something that will need to be worked on just as strenuously as the production of something that might be of interest for others to read, interested in my subject or my ideas, people who mostly don't know me.

Blogging is about remembering and reflecting on things that grab attention in the stream of life - the landscape features of the journey you think matter at the time. It's an exercise in mindfulness, so that an interesting life doesn't just become one long blur of half recalled moments and sentiments. It's not possible to write about any day in detail with regularity. A novelist or a historian may take years to recall just one significant day. I write for the pleasure of sharing with others I've conversed with over the years, to fill in the gaps between our meetings and conversations. After all, people you make strong connections with in life, for whatever reason, these days no longer live just down the street or even across town - they can be scattered all over the world. 

From telegraph to telephone to internet in a century of enhanced mobility, relationships can be forged and sustained between people of great differences all around the planet, like never before in human history. What a wonderful time to be alive! If that's not a quantum leap or a paradigm shift, in human evolution, I don't know what is.

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