Re: email "appliances"
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 11:13:24 -0600 (MDT)
on 7/13/00 12:42 PM, Lynn Nadeau at welcome [at] wrote:
> Yesterday I saw a newly-marketed little machine that might solve that for
> some or all of them. Called MailStation, it is the size of a small
> answering machine, has a keyboard, and a display screen that is about 4"
> by 8". It does email, but not Internet.

Sometimes these machines are helpful and sometimes they create more
frustration because they are limited. Often emails refer people to web sites
and they can't go there. Sometimes the screen is so small it is hard to have
menus and messages.

I'm sure there are times when this is a perfect start and will illustrate my
point with a story. I used to teach in an "open university" type college
where I worked with adult students. I had a dancer who was about 36 and had
danced literally all her life and with some of the biggest dance companies
In New York including Alvin Ailey. She was very verbal and very out going
but would not write. A sentence was painful. There were no perceptual
disabilities but she just couldn't do it. She would turn in a paragraph when
I asked for 5 pages.

Then her husband gave her a small word processor that was very close to
being an electric typewriter. It had 4k of memory and showed only 4 lines of
type in the screen but saved to disk, allowed corrections and printed out
nice clean copy. It was also fast with the quick touch of a computer
keyboard. Within weeks she was writing pages of text. Within months she was
handing in 20 page papers without batting an eye, and greatest
accomplishment of all, voluntarily wrote a letter to the editor of the
college publication taking him to task for not fact-checking and misspelling
names (they were famous dancers). After one year she was shopping for a

She explained that the physical task of sitting still and making little
marks on a page was so  limiting for her, that she was tongue tied by the
slow pace. And hated how it looked -- sloppy. As a dancer she was used to
perfection, full body movement, complete control, and fast communication. In
addition to the agony of having to sit still and be quiet, seeing her own
writing on the page was embarrassing -- not content, but the look of it.

Finding out what is holding people back is the key to moving them forward
but often you can only discover what is holding them back by moving them
forward. The value sometimes in just saying, "You have to do it. I don't
care how, but it has to get done" is that it is the only way to break the
log jam.

Sharon Villines, Editor
The MacGuffin Guide to Detective Fiction
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington, DC

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