Computer skills

Element Descriptor

Despite the sci-fi tropes, computers can be you friend. And there are a surprising number of time-saving techniques you can use to get the most out of your BBC/Vic20/Commodore 64 or whatever top-of-the-range device you now own. Not having these means you waste time and energy. And to that, computer says no…

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You have basic word processing skills- making contents pages, pagination etc. You know a few keyboard shortcuts. You can save files in systematic ways, and backup files easily to ‘the Cloud’You have superior word processing skills, with layout and design capabilities. You most all the shortcuts, the tricks of the trade. You use spreadsheets and powerpoint as appropriateYou are familiar and comfortable with a wide variety of software programmes, and can weigh up the pros and cons of different programmes, apps, devices for different activist tasks, without being seduced by shiny bloatware that is actually a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.You build computers, blindfolded and in your sleep, for fun, and write the code to go with them. All your devices are synced, and backup automatically, and are secured tighter than a fish’s butthole.

Element Overview Essay

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So computer skills and bits of data management, which fold into information management that will consider information management to be broader than merely files on a computer. (Information Management would also have to capture offline conversations face-to-face. stuff that you learned in other people’s newsletters, etc.) 

So there’s a generational divide here. You have your digital natives who are born with an app in their nappy. And then you have the old farts. And never underestimate how little the old farts know or are comfortable with even email. I mean, really, email has been a thing since about 1995. That’s 25 years, but if you were already 30 or 40 when that kicks in, maybe you’ve just kept to an absolute bare minimum Yahoo account or whatever. And the rest of it has passed you by. So no names but there are people who have a Gmail account but don’t use the Gdrive now. Gdrive is just incredibly powerful.  Obviously it’s part of the GooglePlex and the CIA and MI6 etc. are reading your emails. Yeah, sure. We’ll be first against the wall come the coup.

But let’s talk a little bit about being able to type quickly is still a useful skill. Knowing shortcuts for things like opening a new file. Saving, but also inserting a hyperlink, or, which is by the way, Ctrl K, highlight the text hit Ctrl K, and then cut and paste the hyperlink Ctrl C and V, control x control Zed and control y. So Ctrl Z undoes the change control y redoes it, this can be a lifesaver. 

So it’s really worth knowing your keyboard shortcuts, they do save time. And when you save time, it means that you have more time and energy available for either other work or just relaxing and getting on with the rest of your life. 

So the beauty of online collaboration, and it doesn’t have to be at Gdrive. There are loads of other spaces where you can collectively add a document. It’s quite simply, rather than having to organise a meeting and find a time when all of you have available and then it turns out to have you on and one of you is in a really bad mood and you talk over each other and you get sidetracked and everyone’s fractious and then there’s you’re out of time and you’ve not really achieved anything is if you have one collective document, you know, says, 

“What is our strategy for the next six months?” and then has a bunch of subheadings then the people in your core group can, at their leisure, write their thoughts and respond to other people’s thoughts. And you can assign each person a colour or get them to put their initials at the beginning of their bits or both. 

And then it’s easy to get together collectively, either online or face-to-face and see what other people have written? So that’s just an example of how slightly more advanced computer skills can really make a huge difference to your collective intelligence and the ability to harness different people’s time, energy and perspectives. 

There are other tricks of the trade. So if you’re, I got taught this one recently about the being able to create different titles and headers automatically and then generate a table of contents. I

I know it sounds really geeky, but sitting down and drawing up a list of all what are the the different shortcuts and tricks and functions that each individually who finds useful and thinks that the other individuals in the group would find useful? And then you could go one step further. You could share that online. And other people would pitch in and say, “but why don’t you guys know about x or y?” And then that, just as I said, saves everyone, a lot of time and energy, which they can use better elsewhere.

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