People at work laugh at me. I have binders and binders of printed material lining the shelves of my desk. “Why don’t you automate,” they ask. I respond with a polite nod and an explanation about how I feel that, should I put everything on computer, I could lose it or not be able to do anything should that computer crash or the electricity go out. People still laugh and I am rather jealous of their clear shelves where they can display photos or hang up important documents.
I think people have become TOO reliant on computers and “the cloud” these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a luddite, I do see the need for computers and technology, but everything is done with the help of computers these days. They have made filing easier, accounting easier, communication easier, they’ve even made traveling easier. Many establishments, institutions and corporations do everything on their computers, and only on their computers. The days of backing things up with hard copies are in the past….now there’s “the cloud,” where people can store all their information in a server off-site, so they can retrieve it from anywhere. But, what happens when the computers are down, and access to the internet is broken? Where’s the “cloud” then?
Witness the scene at the vet’s office yesterday. I have a great vet for my cat. They are reliable and they know what they’re doing. Best of all, most of the vets were educated in Australia, so they cater well to ex-pats living in Singapore. I brought my cat in for some vaccinations yesterday afternoon because she’s still fairly young. When I walked into the office, the lights were off. I thought it was odd, but sometimes it gets very warm in Singapore and, even though fluorescents give off no heat, it makes people feel cooler when the lights are off. This wasn’t the case….the air conditioning was working well, and there weren’t any overheated people waiting around. I found out, when I entered, that something was wrong with their electricity and they were waiting for someone to come fix it. Their computer system was down, so they had stopped seeing patients. “Why have you stopped seeing patients,” I asked, “the lights are still on in the examination rooms?” “We have all our records on the computer, we couldn’t even tell why you’re here today without it,” was the reply. Luckily, I had my PAPER copy from our last visit, and they were able to see us even though their precious computers were still not working when I left.
This place had become too reliant on their computer, and was unable to operate without its use. I find this ridiculous. Couldn’t they just keep paper records in a cabinet as a backup? Maybe it would be prudent if, at the end of the day, the staff were to print off every record from that day and throw it in a binder. Doctors and vets in the USA always have a “chart” that they look at, with paper documentation of everything the person or animal has gone through. My doctors at Raffles Hospital have one ginormous chart for me with all the information from all the specialists that I’ve seen. Why can’t this place be the same? It’s not too difficult!
In all fairness to Companion Animal Surgery, they’re not the only ones. Stores are too dependent on their computer systems and have trouble operating if they are down. I was in a market a few years ago where the electricity had gone out and they had to use the old fashioned method of a calculator and paper to tally up people’s grocery bills. It was so difficult, because they had to write the bar codes of all the items down so they could enter them into the computer later to keep track of inventory. Ridiculous! When the server goes down at school, and people can’t access the “shared” drive or their e-mail, there is lots of moaning and groaning about not being able to work. Then I look at my collection of binders and smile…..I’m not getting behind on work just because my little computer isn’t working…..I’m “old school!”