I'm sitting in the waiting room of an electro-diagnostician. I am here because of the problem in my wrist I thought came from noding too much--but I have been teaching, and making certain routine moves while doing it a lot longer than I have been noding; so that is more likely the cause. For two weeks now, I have been on naproxen, an NSAID because of the pain and discomfort I was experiencing, not only when using my PC, primarily for everything, but also for stuff connected with my teaching.

The doctor seems well-credentialed; I count 14 on his office wall, some in Arabic, others in English of both Canadian and American organizations. I was referred by my doctor, and am happy enough being here.

Besides the credentials are interesting tapestry-like pictures in a Egyptian motif: a chair, one of those eye symbols in a backwards R, the death mask of Tutankhamun.

Looking at the others waiting, I seem to be among the youngest here. Most of those waiting seem older, say in their 60's or beyond--though that could be as much apparant as real, due to the reason they are here. One Asian woman could, however, be anywhere between from her 30's to 50's, younger or older than I. Later, I see another woman who is younger than I am.

Even before I got here, I have had a professional concern with the correct use of the hand, fingers, and arm; only the proper use of them guarantees reliable and intentional control of both technical and stylistic elements of piano playing--and for that matter, of synthesizer playing as well.

In my school, I see many young children; my students are as young as 5, my colleagues teach as young as 2, and we see their even younger brothers and sisters. How elastic they are! Things they don’t even think about, like sitting, knees and ankles on the floor with their bums resting on the floor--how many of us could do that without effort--and pain?

And the physical elasticity is reflected by their mental plasticity. This is cliche.

We think of the terrible toll taken on the bodies of those who worked in mines, and factories, before the advent of labor-saving machinery--labor-saving for those that remained, however. We think of our parents, or more likely their parents and grandparents, and the deformations their bodies took on so we could grow, learn, and become ourselves.

And what about us? Those of us on everything spend much of our time on these damn! keyboards, and not in mines or factories. In the last decade, a new epidemic has emerged among us--carpal tunnel syndrome, and similarly caused repetitive stress injuries. But is this so new?

The most flexible machine, at least in the consideration of the boss, is us, the worker. If the mechanical machine doesn’t work, or doesn’t work smoothly, quickly, correctly or exactly as needed--like the duplicating press I ran in the quick print business for a year--well, the human machine can go round the difficulty, regardless of the awkwardness, discomfort, or danger.

It is always a technology that generates these problems--and just happens to generate money for the impersonal corporations that invent, make, and use them. And then these problems generate more technology, that seems to ease the burden, only to cause more problems along the way--and generating more money.

E2 is one of the more benevolent uses of the internet. However, as far as I can see, most uses are not. Whether we think about tracking technology, ebusiness, or the many technologies of surveillance--and others that escape me, but I’m sure occur to you--these are what generates business in IT, or computing, or communication, or the much vaunted convergence of it all.

I remember a young woman I once taught, for a short time. Very quickly, it became apparent she was in serious trouble. In her later twenties, she had been at a computer keyboard for at least a decade, carrying her out of her home in Turkey to a senior job at Digital Equipment, before it disappeared. She had developed nth stage carpal tunnel syndrome. She had to stop working--and piano lessons--and had the final treatment for the condition: the bone in her wrists was cut to release the pressure on the muscle and nerves. (I hope she had a good benefits package.)

I have elsewhere asserted that technology is not the remedy for problems caused by technology, which I am reminded of as I sit at home, my right wrist still sore from the electrical-conductivity test--familiar to many of you, I am sure--reflecting.

I have to believe a more penetrating analysis of the political economy of the decisions leading to the introduction of these technologies might actually lead in directions than the ones we are lead in today; that the purpose of them, contrary to the advertising, is not for people, but for business, and its convenience. It is not for us, unless we are the owner, like the one I describe in The Will To Work.

Where profit is the sole motive, the urge to introduce what is new because it is efficient, without any appreciation of the consquences, most not apparant until years later, in people sitting in doctors' waiting rooms.

And we are the lucky ones, our deformations and dysfunctions easily seen--what about the ones now invisible in our minds?

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