Category Archives: technology

Sidelong

First photographic portrait image of a human produced in America.
“Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders self-portrait, facing front, with arms crossed”, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype, 1839 [Oct. or Nov.]. LC-USZC4-5001 DLC United States Library of Congress
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Sidelong

Robert Cornelius remains skeptical.
He does not trust that it will work,
or that a specific future develops
when this image will be visible.

He does not pause to comb his hair
or consider us, but guards himself
against the possible exposure,
against the theft, of unmarshalled spirit.

Slow counting silent hesitation,
he glances sidelong from 1839,
doubtful of our existence,
his focus on what he next intends.

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Lockdown meeting

For several years I’ve often worked from home, but of course this year most of my colleagues at work have had little choice but to begin to do the same. As a consequence of the coronavirus lockdown, like so many others, I suddenly found I was taking part in a lot more online meetings, both for work, and with friends.

It’s great that these technologies allow us see each other when we are talking. The experience is not as good as being with, but there does seem to be a stronger feeling of presence than is the case with just a phone call. Of course the shiny newness of this sensation soon wears off as the technology quickly grows more familiar. It already seems quite odd to imagine now, that meeting people using remote video was for a long time an idea largely in the realm of science fiction, or James Bond movies, something with a glamour that bordered almost on thrilling …

Lockdown meeting

Is anybody there?
Can you hear me?
UN-MUTE! They are shouting,
a small informal ensemble pew,
like a University Challenge choir,
feedback buzzers primed.

It’s right there, just CLICK IT!
My mouse-palmed ouija
sweeps and taps the table,
rendering both more and less remote
the possibility of presence.

And what does it mean
in Microsoft Teams,
if only one has camera off?
Is their webcam broken?
Did they forget to shave?
Are they still undressed?

Or is the house just too much mess
for morning discretion.
A late-night party gone just too far
to find absolution in the gaussian
caress of background blur.

Those present gaze down,
or top-left, or anywhere else,
speaking to an invisible presence,
a congregation unsure
of the exact location in the room,
of an obscure lurking god.

Absent Charlie on intercom,
commissioning the Angels,
while – who knows? –
observing in sight unseen,
that this episode seems
far less glamorous,
than once-upon-a-time.
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The coffin road to Kilfinnan

Last month for Book Week Scotland, Stanza International Poetry Festival made postcards with short poems responding to work by a favourite poet. It was really nice to be asked to contribute. I enjoyed writing a poem for this so much, I made three. This is the one that ended up on a Stanzacard…

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Turing true

Turing true

Chatting to tech support
I glibly key: Are you a bot?
remote assistance returns:
That’d be quite something!

Some day will that question
define an instance of class:
substratist[human, foolish, old].

I hesitate some cycles,
query not quite resolved.
Has he just passed the test,
have I already failed?


Call 0337

An odd source of inspiration. A one line help desk call made the first line of this poem. Just a wee bit o nonsense…

Call 0337:
About the printer on the first floor

The printer on the first floor in the main open space has no yellow.

It just doesn’t know how to quit.

The printer on the first floor in the main open space has no blue.

It’s always got a good word to say.

The printer on the first floor in the main open space has no red.

It’s true, I’ve never seen it lose the rag.

The printer on the first floor in the main open space has no black.

Really, I mean, doesn’t everyone have a dark side?

The printer on the first floor in the main open space has no paper.

Sorry – was this the last sheet?

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