Columnist Judy Mann wrote about her adventures in composing her first column on our new video display machine, and I have also been keeping District Liners posted on the increasing importance of computers in our newsroom.
Carmen M. Williams of Rockville offers this counsel: "Your column today reminded me of similar experiences with computers at the institution where I worked for many years.
"You can imagine all the frustrations felt when these computers were installed in a hospital setting where medications, procedures, observations and doctors' orders were to be fed into the glorious box (we called it other names, and so did the doctors in the beginning).
"In the end, the computer won, and the doctors and staff all used it.
"In nursing it produced a great many anxieties, but gradually we became adapted ot it. Mastering it took only time and patience.
"I can tell you that your patience, practice and all the headaches you endure will be worth it at the end.
"My advice to your staff is, 'Don't give up. This is the way to progress.' And tell Judy Mann I'll pray for her."
Any change in a person's life style habits or environment (especially work environment) is likely to create anxiety, Carmen.
A reporter who has been earning his living on a typewriter for 20 years cannot remain completely unworried when he's told that his typewriter will soon be replaced by a computer terminal, and that he will not be able to operate that terminal until he attends a special training course.
In a show of bravado, a few of my colleagues tried to enter stories into the system before they had been fully schooled in operating techniques. The computer rejected their offerings -- politely, at first. Those who continued to experiment in the hope of working out entry codes by trial and error were soon rebuffed more pointedly and, in effect, told to go fly a kite.
The computer was smart enough to recognize the difference between a few mistakes made by an authorized operator and tampering by an unauthorized intruder.
A machine That smart is enough to cause anxiety in anybody. But it can also be a valuable friend to those who learn to live harmoniously with it.