Tuesday, November 12, 2013


S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450
I’ve been wondering if there’s an age, or some other irrevocable, measurable point, when we run out of easy access to gray matter storage capabilities in what my M.D. soulmate calls “the old squash.”
If so, I may have officially hit the squash wall recently when I returned from vacation and tried to cope with more than 2,000 emails and our recently installed, challenging news processing system on my new newsroom PC, the same day I was presented with my brand new iPhone and attempted to simultaneously Tout and Tweet. And blog and update Facebook and assorted other social media.
I’ve experienced some significant brain freeze moments that had nothing to do with ice cream.
There are times when I could get overwhelmed just contemplating the number of passwords I need to access the basic resources and technology that have somehow become necessary to conduct my daily life on this planet.
These days, it seems you hardly have time to crack open a manual or access a tutorial or webinar, or retrieve your messages before the device or software has been replaced by a newer version.
I’m still debating whether it’s me or my cyberuniverse, but sometime recently, the trend seems to have gone from ever-more user-friendly to passive-aggressive-frustrating or even downright HAL-hostile. (For you whippersnappers, HAL was the name of the homicidal computer in Arthur C. Clarke’s classic tale and movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)
When I look back, it may be that 2013 will go down in my personal history as the year I faced the fact that my photographic memory has finally run out of film ... and that even that analogy is antiquated.
Aging and its impact on eidetic memory (commonly called “photographic memory”) is something I somehow never considered. My mentor on that front was my dad. He memorized the contents of an entire encyclopedia set one summer in his boyhood when he was bedridden with a bad case of poison ivy. He frequently regaled us with esoteric and sometimes seriously outdated facts. He also seemed to be able to retain epic poems and ballads after one hearing.
I never attained his skill level, but I found I could conjure passages from large quantities of textbooks by visualizing their position on a page, a trick that came in handy during exam weeks in college, when my eidetic skills seemed to peak. Why doesn’t it work with computer screens?
But performance was always erratic in my case. I’ve never been good with names, but I still have an almost uncanny ability to remember birthdays or conversations with people I met just once, decades ago. Great quotes can stay with me for a lifetime, a good thing since I sometimes have trouble deciphering my own handwriting.
Will technology enhance and preserve our mental facilities or hasten their disintegration?
I think about that a lot as I continue my quest to convert on the fly ... a nice phrase I learned years ago, when I was helping a group of previously mild-mannered librarians develop the first automated system of its kind to link corporate, public and academic libraries, while maintaining full library services and opening new branches. There was stress. There was confusion.
Occasionally, I still amuse my whippersnapper colleagues with references to Twitting and Tooting instead of Tweeting and Touting.
Some days, everything is peachy. I have come to think of Tweeting as a kind of poetry. And I’m downright excited by the creative potentials of telling a little audio-visual Tout story in 45 seconds. On a recent Saturday, I conjured up a lovely vision of jazz, blue skies, curly fries and colorful arts and crafts as I circled a fiesta with a director’s eye and a poetic spirit. I was ready to whip out my iPhone and Tout my heart out.
I searched my purse, car and camera bag. The good news is that I’ve conscientiously established my new daily charging habit (my old phone could go weeks on a single charge). The bad news was that my fully charged phone was still plugged in back at the office, 35 miles away.
Communicating has always been natural and easy for me. And fun. Will technology ultimately continue to facilitate or terminally complicate my lifelong mission?
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted. If I can figure out this dang app ...

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

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