When I went to prison, in 1987, Motorola manufactured the large, grey mobile phone that I used. People referred to it as “the brick.” It had the capacity to send or receive phone calls, but there wasn’t any text messaging back then.
I also had a pager, but it could only transmit digits, as I recall. I had a personal computer manufactured by IBM with a DOS operating system that I didn’t really understand and 40 megabytes of memory. I was told that was a big deal.
I linked the computer to an Epson dot-matrix printer, and I remember the perforated paper fed through on a track system that easily derailed. It was a hassle.
Technology has changed considerably during the 25 years that I served. I read extensively during my term of incarceration, but reading about technology felt a bit like reading about typing. Regardless of how much I read, I wouldn’t grasp the power of technology until I started using it. Forget the power, I don’t even understand the language of technology. For example, I never understood what people meant when they spoke of a “browser.” In fact, I just asked my wife to define a browser, and when she described it as a program that would allow me to access the Internet, I gave her a blank stare.
“But I thought the browser was the little text box on top of the screen, where I type in what I’m looking to find on Google.”
“No honey,” she said. “That’s the URL bar.”
I served more than 25 years in prison, and I haven’t yet been free for five full months, so maybe others can understand my ignorance on the subject of technology. I can accept that volumes of basic information are beyond my ability to comprehend right now, but with everything I have to learn, I don’t know whether I’ll ever grasp all that I need to know. I don’t have any idea what a “server” is, and I don’t know much about how to make my content available to the people who need it. Truthfully, technology isn’t the only area that makes me feel as if I’m living in a time warp, but I’ll post a different response for those areas of my ignorance.
With regard to technology, I sense a real handicap because I envision technology as being a central component of the business that I want to build. I consider myself as having a responsibility, or duty, to help others understand prisons, the people they hold, and strategies for growing through confinement in ways that will help people emerge with values, skills, and resources that translate into success.
Technology could really help me succeed, but since I don’t understand how to use it effectively, I’m kind of in a lost world.
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