It's useful ... if you know how

Glenda Jackson MP says she doesn't feelshe's being left behind by not owning a personal computer or a mobile phone. Withher pager and her staff, she manages without them
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The Independent Online

I must admit I'm not big on technology.Nevertheless, I am still amused by it. Take the fax machine, for instance, thatit can go through and be received at the other end so quickly. But it'sirritating how people ring and say they are sending you a fax, then they mightphone to check if it's come through and post the hard copy. These technologiesdon't actually mean a reduction in workload.

I must admit I'm not big on technology.Nevertheless, I am still amused by it. Take the fax machine, for instance, thatit can go through and be received at the other end so quickly. But it'sirritating how people ring and say they are sending you a fax, then they mightphone to check if it's come through and post the hard copy. These technologiesdon't actually mean a reduction in workload.

As far as my office isconcerned, of course, it's all there. We've got personal computers linked up, faxmachines and the Internet. I don't know how to use all that stuff, nor do I use amobile phone. I have a pager, when I remember to switch it on. It doesn't matterthat I haven't got a mobile phone because my staff know where I am all the time.

Certainly at the Bournemouth party conference, everybody seemed to be goingaround with a mobile phone. Apparently when the Labour Party was in Brighton, themobile phones didn't work because the volume of use crashed the network.

Ican understand their value in certain situations, but equally I manage withoutone. They can be intensely irritating in train carriages, particularly when it'scrowded and it's hard not to eavesdrop when you are standing cheek by jowl. Ithink it's interesting that certain train companies offer carriages where mobilephone can't be used. I wonder whether it will be possible to stem the tide?

You are talking to someone who, the first time she bought a Hoover, shook all theway home because she had been brought up with a dustpan and brush, and the ideaof lashing out on a PC myself will probably take me some time.

The area thatI find most interesting is how much the Internet will reduce the need for us everto leave our homes. It is possible, if you've got the right equipment andfinancial back-up, to run your whole life without ever leaving your home. I thinkthat's the scary aspect. But people are essentially gregarious: we like otherpeople.

Nevertheless, the Internet is a super tool and with the help of mystaff, I can get information in 30 seconds flat. It's as natural as breathing tomy children, who have been using this stuff since they went to school. But inCamden, my local borough, they put computers and the Internet into day centresparticularly for older people, and they had got it down in 30 seconds flat.

Older people may be a bit bemused by the Internet at first, but once it has beenexplained to them, they can use it. One of the amusing things about the Internetis that it contains so much information and it's wasted unless you know what youare looking for. Then it's as valuable as any piece of source information.

Incertain instances you still need to have a hard copy in your hands. But I think,when you can use the Internet to cross-refer, rather than getting eight volumesfrom the library shelves, it is quite useful.

People keep telling me I ambeing left behind. But I must admit, at the moment, I have no real sense of that.That's because I have got other people around me who use it, so a middle personpasses on the benefits to me, if you like. If I had to do it on my own then Iwould probably have to learn it, because of the sheer amount of paper to getthrough. I think it's a case of me becoming less puritanical in my outlook.

Icertainly think that getting a PC to every child is very important, and also theway local authorities and the Government are pushing for learning centres thatare easily available. There is a project in my constituency where they have put12 PCs in a comparatively small part of the library with people there to assistyou. It's marvellous that the Internet is a resource that will increasingly bemade appealable to everybody.

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