Perspective: A down-to-earth office affair

A SURPRISE awaited me when I arrived at my office desk on Valentine’s Day Monday.

Plonked there on open view was a small pile of goodies from who knows who.

Although there was no card with a name to identify the donor, I strongly suspect that the cleaner was responsible.

Here’s the reason why: the “gift” was made up of six ballpoint pens (half of which were dried up), a cassette tape (remember them?) which bore the date July 11, 2003 and carried information about a long forgotten story), a solitary teabag a little scrunched up but unused, and a 2p coin.

Was the person who put them there suggesting tea for 2? I think not. It is much more likely that these various objects had been plucked out from under my desk where they had long rested unseen and put on the nearest flat surface.

Three of the pens went straight into the bin along with the tape, the cash was given a new home in my pocket and the teabag is still awaiting its fate but I don’t think I will risk it in a brew.

Talking about things in the office, I learnt this week that some familiar objects are heading for the electronic graveyard in the sky.

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A leading retailer is predicting that memory sticks, compact discs, calculators and desk phones are some of the office gadgets set to follow typewriters and floppy discs into oblivion.

The first two items face the corporate chop because businesses are increasingly storing their data and documents on the internet (using so-called cloud computing networks, whatever they are) rather than old fashioned storage devices such as filing cabinets.

Desk phones are old hat because of the burgeoning popularity of smart phones which as far as I can tell are capable of doing just about anything including scratching one’s back if it is itchy.

I suppose it is not surprising that internet storage is being used more and more because it seems it is the only thing able to handle all the information being generated these days.

Information is, of course, the lifeblood of journalists. We would not be able to do our job without a constant flow of the stuff.

But we and the rest of us are being overloaded – a new study concludes that everyone is bombarded by enough data every day to fill 174 newspapers. Even with speed reading, no one could get through that many on a daily basis.

Twenty-five years ago, we had the more manageable equivalent of 40 newspapers a day.

If all this is making you concerned that soon we won’t be able to cope and our brains will explode, don’t worry. The man who led the US researchers gave this assurance: “The brain is very good at understanding and processing information.”

Thank goodness for that: I had been feeling one of my headaches coming on but now I’m much refreshed knowing that my head will stay intact. I think I’ll celebrate by reading the last Sunday Times and its supplements all over again.

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