I have always hated to rely on technology. Maybe it is because I grew up in a place where computers and electric devices never seemed to work properly, and repairs took ages to complete. Before you start making assumptions about my “underdeveloped” country, I must say that technology reliability has improved dramatically in the last few years. If truth be told, I believe that people was too willing to blame any mistake on the machine (as it cannot defend itself).
It is perhaps ironic that I ended researching into film, because I have needed to show clips in the vast majority of my conference presentations. I am sure that anyone who has attended a conference has witnessed a similar scene. The speaker says: “Let’s see the clip!” and the clip does not work.
For many years, I resisted to use DVD and preferred to rely on the old VHS format. If I changed, it was because a DVD player was often the only option available at a conference. It is not that I am old-fashioned. In fact, in my first symposium, I was the only one in the panel who did not have problems with her clips because I was the only one using VHS. I was a child in the 1980s, when video was the trendiest technology. We were the first people in the village who had a video recorder. My father was able to make a customized remote control with an old switch and I knew the trick to make a video tape recordable by using cello tape. VHS is quite a simple format to use, so any problem is easy to locate. In contrast, in DVD, there is a multiplicity of things which could be the problem.
Digital formats and Internet started to be used massively at the ending of my undergraduate years. I remember that the web connection at university was so slow that I used to read a book while waiting for the pages to open. This experience taught me that working with computers requires patience and calm. If it is not working, let it take its time. Touch nothing and wait. Stand up and do something else if you need, but never, never try to force the computer. More importantly, under no circumstances press the same button repeated times.
Unfortunately, you cannot wait for the computer if there is a whole audience in front of you and you have limited time to speak. I learnt it the hard way. I ended having to perform a whole scene from a Japanese film during a talk, because the DVD got stuck and we could not see the clip. Even worse, a problem with the computer spoiled my presentation at a job interview (and I did not get the job). It is always good practice to show the clip at the beginning. If there are problems, you can go on while it opens, with the promise that you will see it later. If you are still unable to open it, just blame it on your limited speaking time.
Will I ever master digital technology? Of course I will (but I will still keep my video tapes).