Kindle Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I make a fair amount of my living helping people who are not quite computer literate to make their way around the world-wide-web and the rest of the bewildering world of tech. (Actually just found out that in America, this is called being a Digital Guide or Digital Coach or something like that?)

These days, often as not, it's writers I'm dealing with.  People who don't know how to save an e-mail attachment, or how to choose what software to use to open a file. I feel a bit torn about this because on the one hand, I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone to be as interested in tech as I am.  Also, there are many other ways of doing things than doing everything digitally. On the other hand, I sometimes want to shake them and say "why don't you just TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!"

The thing is -- it's scary how vulnerable you are if you don't understand  how the tools you use every day, actually work.  I don't think you need to be an expert in the inner workings of your laptop or anything, but how can you be any kind of professional these days if you use Microsoft Word as though it is the operating system of your computer?  Or don't know the difference between your network cable and your power cord?

I think that this is particularly true if you self-publish.  But then -- is that really fair of me?  Maybe this all will come round and bite me in the butt when I'm too old and slow to keep track of the next tech revolution.  :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
I think sometimes learned helplessness comes hand in hand with technological advances. It's way easier to flap your hands around and say "I can't do that!" and pay someone else to do it than it is to buck up, say, "I CAN" and do it. Most of the things that non-techies flap about are actually extremely simple to do. But it's almost cachet to say you are anti-tech, like it's a badge of honor or somehow enhances your role as a creative artist.

There are some things you should leave to professionals. A good cover, if you are not a graphic artist, may be beyond you. But learning how to attach a file to email? Come on. Everyone can learn that. Even my 85 year old mother who was born in 1927 and lived through WWII can do it, AND purchase things online. It truly is not rocket science.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
855 Posts
Finding your way around a computer is like finding your way around a kitchen. You need to be interested and a bit adventurous. Some of us will experiment with a new program or a new cuisine while others will not. Let's just hope than when we age we'll still be interested and adventurous enough to try the new stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,123 Posts
If you consider writing your business, it would behoove you to keep up.

I have a day job and can't imagine that I'd keep it for very long if I didn't understand the technology required for it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
I understand the basic programs required to write and market my work. As far as technology in my stories, I only do the bare minimum research to make my references believable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,809 Posts
You can be a professional writer and write longhand with a quill pen, but if you're self-publishing you'd better have some computer savvy, because now your job is a lot more than just writing.
 
G

·
I think that if you intend to go into business you have an obligation to understand the tools used in said business. I read some questions from indie authors and I want to bang my head against the wall because they are bare-minimum knowledge sort of things. It is one thing to need help embedding images into a file in a way that keeps the file size down and flows nicely on multiple ereaders. It is quite another to know HOW TO SAVE A FILE in the first place. There is a certain baseline literacy that a person should have if they intend to do business in a field. And this isn't just in publishing. This is in life.

Using the kitchen comparison, my boyfriend isn't a good cook. He has a minimal understanding of all things cooking and is more likely to use the microwave than anything else in the kitchen. And that is fine, because he doesn't do anything that requires knowledge beyond the microwave. My friend Mike, who is a professional chef, owns an almost $1000 set of knives that includes three different boning knives and four different carving knives for different types of meat. I don't expect my boyfriend to know which carving knife to use for what. I do expect my friend Mike to know those difference because IT IS HIS JOB TO.

But if my boyfriend decided that he wanted to pursue a career as a chef, then I would expect him to do the research first and gain that basic knowledge of the equipment available and how to use it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,262 Posts
Masha du Toit said:
I make a fair amount of my living helping people who are not quite computer literate to make theirThe thing is -- it's scary how vulnerable you are if you don't understand how the tools you use every day, actually work. I don't think you need to be an expert in the inner workings of your laptop or anything, but how can you be any kind of professional these days if you use Microsoft Word as though it is the operating system of your computer? Or don't know the difference between your network cable and your power cord?
You know, it's funny, I research all kinds of futuristic things for my sci-fi, but know squat about my computer other than to turn it on. Well, at least I know the difference between my network cable which hooks the doohickey to the thing, and the power cord, which I keep in my drawers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lady_O said:
Finding your way around a computer is like finding your way around a kitchen. You need to be interested and a bit adventurous. Some of us will experiment with a new program or a new cuisine while others will not. Let's just hope than when we age we'll still be interested and adventurous enough to try the new stuff.
Oh, I'm so going to quote you to my next group of students :) I think this will resonate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
691 Posts
Most folks rarely use the entire quantity of computing power available to them in their systems. Gamers sometimes push their CPU's to the limits, or those using video converter apps or CAD. For the most part, a lot of people just use perhaps 10 or 20% of the computer. As to how much they understand of the protocols and services is anyone's guess.

But to the question, do writers have a 'duty' to keep up to date with X or Y - my guess is, it depends if those advances are going to be needed in their writing somewhere along the way.

Perhaps its like asking 'do you need to have a working knowledge of aerodynamics in order to sit on an airplane and fly somewhere?' The answer then is 'no.' All you need really is the ability for the technology to do what you want it to do. For a writer, its 'doing research' and 'writing in a document' mostly...?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,688 Posts
Only the final product matters. Modern technology can certainly be beneficial in the production process, but it's not a duty to keep up to date. There is no obligation, and we don't have to answer to anyone who thinks there is.

Consumers don't care if the book was written with a quill pen or MS Word.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,973 Posts
Masha du Toit said:
I make a fair amount of my living helping people who are not quite computer literate to make their way around the world-wide-web and the rest of the bewildering world of tech. (Actually just found out that in America, this is called being a Digital Guide or Digital Coach or something like that?)

These days, often as not, it's writers I'm dealing with. People who don't know how to save an e-mail attachment, or how to choose what software to use to open a file. I feel a bit torn about this because on the one hand, I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone to be as interested in tech as I am. Also, there are many other ways of doing things than doing everything digitally. On the other hand, I sometimes want to shake them and say "why don't you just TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!"

The thing is -- it's scary how vulnerable you are if you don't understand how the tools you use every day, actually work. I don't think you need to be an expert in the inner workings of your laptop or anything, but how can you be any kind of professional these days if you use Microsoft Word as though it is the operating system of your computer? Or don't know the difference between your network cable and your power cord?

I think that this is particularly true if you self-publish. But then -- is that really fair of me? Maybe this all will come round and bite me in the butt when I'm too old and slow to keep track of the next tech revolution. :p
Take a deep breath. Let it out.

Think of this as job security, for someone like yourself who mentors the computer illiterate. Charge a good fee. Wait until you are out of their earshot and then laugh all the way to the bank. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,412 Posts
DD Graphix said:
I think sometimes learned helplessness comes hand in hand with technological advances. It's way easier to flap your hands around and say "I can't do that!" and pay someone else to do it than it is to buck up, say, "I CAN" and do it. Most of the things that non-techies flap about are actually extremely simple to do. But it's almost cachet to say you are anti-tech, like it's a badge of honor or somehow enhances your role as a creative artist.

There are some things you should leave to professionals. A good cover, if you are not a graphic artist, may be beyond you. But learning how to attach a file to email? Come on. Everyone can learn that. Even my 85 year old mother who was born in 1927 and lived through WWII can do it, AND purchase things online. It truly is not rocket science.
I have a supervisor at work. She loves to say how she never goes on the internet, hasn't checked her personal email in months, and only made a FB page because another coworker showed her how. She only checked back once since then. That's all fine, but then she wonders why she has so much trouble attaching files, downloading and finding attached files, copy and pasting, etc. My strong attachement to the internet is joked about, but when she needs help, who does she ask? Yep. You got it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,698 Posts
I have a strong technical computer background.  I grew up with computers and I worked for Dell for a decade before becoming a writer.  Yup, I'm that neighbor guy who gets stuck fixing everyone else's computer problems.  The other day I was talking to my editor about the apparent lack of basic computer skills that an unsettling number of authors seem to have.  I find it odd that people have chosen to try and make money or a career as an author in a digital landscape with a digital product that is transferred digitally paid for digitally and read on digital devices that allow the end user to manipulate.  Yet they can't even follow a basic formatting guide.  That's okay, there are plenty of people offering their services to do this for them, but these people refuse to buy the services.  Then you see them later asking about what price to make their book and why it shouldn't be something else because the book doesn't sell at any of the suggested prices.

It's not that bad here on Kindle Boards, but other places *cough* KDP Fourms *cough* it's downright silly.  I shudder to think how many might be out there that are this bad who don't use the forums at all.

It's like baking a cake.  Some of can bake one from scratch.  Others can make a beautiful one from a box mix.  Some buy them ready to go from the bakery.  And then there's the author with a wooden spoon in one hand, and can't figure out why no one wants their cake when they don't even have a mixing bowl or an oven to use.  Even if it's free, no one takes it...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
I'm not really tech-oriented, but I always consider it a challenge to learn new things. I tend to learn what I need when I need it, and that's worked pretty well for me. Unexpectedly, it's made me kind of an expert in the eyes of reader/writers who are struggling with the whole publishing thing, and even with getting up to speed on the net and their computers. My impression is that most writers will learn what they need, even if they have to be dragged into it and helped along.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,716 Posts
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
I think that if you intend to go into business you have an obligation to understand the tools used in said business. I read some questions from indie authors and I want to bang my head against the wall because they are bare-minimum knowledge sort of things. It is one thing to need help embedding images into a file in a way that keeps the file size down and flows nicely on multiple ereaders. It is quite another to know HOW TO SAVE A FILE in the first place. There is a certain baseline literacy that a person should have if they intend to do business in a field. And this isn't just in publishing. This is in life.
This.

I've not been working in it much lately, but I can still plan out a basic web page without looking up any of the HTML or CSS lingo. The master stylesheet I use on my sites is something I wrote up myself (works better than the templates I've found elsewhere), and I can whip up my own PHP or JavaScript, when I need to. (One of these days, I'll get to designing my own WordPress template from scratch…)

Do I expect everybody who works online or who has their own websites to be able to do that? No. Do I think they should at least have a basic understanding of what a website is and why it shows up the way it does on their monitors? Yes.

That's one reason I design my own covers for my short stories. My first efforts sucked something awful-and I'm sure my current ones could still use improvement, though I'm happy with them at the moment. (…At least, I'm happy with the ones that have been updated to the new branding method. Have two more to do.)

But by making sucky covers, I've been learning what makes a cover not suck, as well as those things I like or dislike about a cover. (And those things that will catch the eye of my intended readership.)

Now, someone who isn't self-publishing or who is hiring a cover designer doesn't necessarily need to know what goes into making a good cover. (I still think it's a useful to know, but it isn't as mandatory.)

A business that functions offline doesn't need to know how to run a business through a website or computer.

But if you're working online, you should at least learn how things work on your specific computer. :-/
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top