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SINGING THE DIGITAL-AGE BLUES
Coming from the hard-knock world of secretaries and billing clerks, grappling with techno-advances in the workplace once seemed like a song. The turnover for “pink-collar workers” had accelerated for decades, starting with electronic typewriters. A gaggle of complaints flew up with each change, shocks coming every five years, then two, then every 18 months, then to whenever new office management came on board. Things chugged faster and faster, if typing speeds fell thanks to the ickiness of keyboard tabs, the visual bias of computer programs and the neutering of Gregg’s. When writing, I particularly enjoyed word programs and the rapidity of editing or restructuring poems, scripts, or stories. Cut-and-paste, an arduous task in the past, sometimes executed on hands and knees, had become pimp simple. The benefits of dot-communism (as one friend calls it) have been many, despite the drawback of “more paper faster” in a purportedly paperless world. Not so here. Laziness, or failure to make a hardcopy for backup of any worthwhile writing, exacts a horrible price, I unfortunately learned—as much as I loathe filing. Inspired by the blues poems of Langston Hughes and Sterling Plumpp, having composed a few myself, I began a new manuscript post-YK2. Painstakingly weaving my blues from scribbles on bits of paper and years of collected lines, my months of creative work vanished when my hard drive crashed. I wasn’t worried at first, until I realized I had made no hardcopies of the poems and my original notes had been scrapped.