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I’m experimenting with a new blog writing software, recommended by a fellow in Minnesota called Griff Wigley who wrote about my blogging a couple weeks ago and then wrote to me. It turns out we have a lot in common apart, including an interest in blogging and social media: community (he was the Utne Reader magazine’s salon keeper and is civicly active in his area of Minnesota), and leadership (which he talks about in relation to blogging).

It was a challenge to get this blog writer installed and I don’t yet know if it’s going to work (if you read this, it did). I found myself thinking that some people have the equivalent of a green thumb when it comes to computers, just the way some people’s potted plants thrive and others wither unfailingly. But a gardener’s green thumb is, I think, a matter of sensitivity and attention. Could the same be true with computers? Do they need love, too?

Talking about an IT green thumb is the reverse of technomorphism, an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while. Technomorphism means (I think I’ve coined this, so this is my definition) people using computer terminology to describe their own feelings and behaviors. It is the reverse of what’s known in HCI as the “Desktop Metaphor.”

Here are a few examples:

  • “just bookmark that” (remember it)
  • “the kid went on screensaver” (blanked out)
  • “I decided to reboot” (midlife career change)
  • “she’s a bot” (i.e., the receptionist from hell)
  • “let’s discuss this offline” (away from these people)
  • “I don’t have the bandwidth” (go away)

A character in Patricia Cornwell who “shut down” every time a certain topic came up. The metaphor didn’t mean clamming up or closing up like a box, but that sudden, total shutting down that computers–especially those run on the operating systems of a certain mega corporation–are subject to. How perfectly it conveys the uncontrollable and mysterious behavior of human emotions. (Of course computers should not act that way!)

Let’s see if the computers work for me now!

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