Monday, March 31, 2008

Flickr and Stuff

I just finished a conversation with my father. He was talking on his cell phone using Bluetooth while driving in his truck. I was priming him on the merits of flickr. It's one of those conversations that daughters didn't have with the fathers last decade. We were comparing notes about sharing and storing digital photos.

"I just bought some DVDs to use to store my pictures and get them off the hard drive."

"Dad, I use flickr and I don't have to worry about losing my photos or storing them anywhere special. And it's so easy to upload them. You'd love it. Granted you have to pay twenty-five dollars a year, but consider how much time and money os spent trying new ways to store your photos or fretting about it." These were not my exact words, but if I was more immediately eloquent that's what I would've said.

I simultaneously love and hate telling my dad about new technology. If you're my age you might know of what I speak. There are all these things out there that make life so easy and manageable: Google, Flickr, blogs, youtube, yahoo, eBay, craigslist, etc. These are all things that did not exist ten years ago. (The writer pauses and thinks, "Ten years ago it was 1998. These things might have existed. I always think it's still the early 2000s.") People talk about the digital divide. I live the digital divide with my father.

My dad is technical and capable and smart. He's a tinkerer who loves to fix things. He can fix many things. He is good using computers and the internet, but it's not like second nature to him. I grew up with computers and while I am no expert I am able to figure lots out on my own. I just, well, tinker. But much of this stuff can't be explained. He'll ask me questions over the phone and it is then that I have great respect for customer service professional in India who get phone calls from people trying to figure out how to fix the Word document formatting so the outline doesn't automatically indent the following line when they no longer need it to do so (c'mon, you know what I'm talking about). I cannot for the life of me conjer the proper vocabulary to instruct my father with computer issues over the phone.

I joke about this idea I have: The Technological Fallacy. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. However, it usually requires a lot of work to get it going: uploading photos somewhere safe, digitizing all your movies or music. The universal remote. The fallacy is that it isn't always easy. It's especially difficult for people whose parents call to get help retrieving all the lost music from their holiday playlist that they programmed into their iPod shuffle three hours before their holiday party. You can troubleshoot for a max of ten minutes and them you want to hang up the phone before you lovingly scream obscenities at your beloved parent because you have no clue what happened. And yes you did follow the directions, you understand that. But how do you explain that sometimes it doesn't make a difference? IT JUST DIDN'T WORK AND I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M SO SORRY FOR YOUR DIGITAL LOSS.


I wish I made commission from flickr, however, because darn it if they're not user friendly and helping to narrow the generational digitized divide.

"Can I drag all my photos from iPhotos into flickr and drop them there?"

"Yes. You have to download the flickr Uploader though."

"Oh. OK."

"I'll send you a link."

"Well, then. I'm excited to go home and pay twenty-five dollars to join flickr."

"Well, I'm excited that you're excited."

I'll have to remember my excitement in case he calls me this evening with a question that starts out something like this, "OK, Alish, I'm in flickr. I've joined. Now, where did all my pictures go?"


jmgb said...

ha. love it.

jmgb said...

p.s. miss you and those babies. perhaps we can arrange a 'meeting-up' in the nearer future:)

Anonymous said...

OK... I love this. So, can relate. Everytime I suggest something that will make life "easier" for my folks, it inevitably requires much difficulty on my side and frustration on both. Tim reminds me everytime - "NEVER make any suggestions!" ... wish he would keep reminding me before I forget!!