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An Over Reliance on Technology Mon 15 Oct 07

Speak_spell_injuThe other day a reader, Mark Siegel, sent me an email about one of my earlier posts on email disclaimers.  He also left a little post-script:

Shouldn't "don't won't" be "don't want"?

He was absolutely correct, it should have been "don't want" (which I've since corrected).  Oops I did it again.  I put my brain on hold and over relied on technology, i. e. the spell checker, to make sure things were right.  That's the problem with technology.  It's so easy to use and so right -- most of the time.  When it doesn't work or we use it beyond its capabilities is when we run in to problems.

A few days later I was listening to a story on National Public Radio about airline safety.  The story detailed how much safer flying was due in large part to improved technology.  Since I fly fairly often I should find this to be good news and I do.  However, at the same time it scares me a little.  I just hope some pilot or air traffic controller doesn't do what I did - over rely on technology.

I'm not suggesting that we abandon technology by any means.  I'm just suggesting that we remember that technology can relieve of us work but not of responsibility.  At the end of the day we and not the technology are responsible for our work product.  This is true whether it is spell checking, flying a plane or writing a program.  Just because the computer says 2+2=5 doesn't make it so.  The Educated Nation | Higher Education Blog  has a post from July of this year entitled "Technology Reverses the Smartness" that references a Telegraph UK article that says in part, "An over reliance on technology is leading to a dumbing down of the nation’s brain power . . ."  Not a very pleasing concept.

This little spell checking incident has reminded me to use technology but not to forget who is responsible.  Fortunately I've found a couple of things to help reduce my spelling errors.  The first is an old proof reading tip.  Read what you've written backwards.  Start at the end of the paragraph and read the words or phrases in reverse order.  When you do this spelling errors and verb "to be" errors are much more noticeable.  I'm guessing that by reading in reverse order you are forced to slow down and more consciously look at what you've written.

The second tip really doesn't reduce spelling errors.  It just makes correcting them easier if you host your blog on Typepad as I do.  For those of you that use Typepad, John Unger, has a great post about adding a editing link to your posts.  When you have to correct a spelling error for example, all you have to do is click on the editing link to take you to the article in Typepad.  It eliminates the scrolling through the list of all your old posts looking for the post in question.  Uh oh!  Am I over relying on technology again?

"Speak & Spell Resurrected!" photo by inju

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