Sunday, 22 April 2012

Third Time Lucky in finding New Ways to Walk the Talk

It's been a very wet start to the day with heavy rain showers since 03.30. It does not bode well for an outdoor type of day. However, I am not that bothered, today I won't mind staying indoors. Yesterday after  a great deal of procrastination on the part of a high street supplier of electrical goods, who I will call Computer Universe to protect their anonymity, I finally took delivery of the new iPad.
With its breakthrough Retina display, 5-megapixel iSight camera and ultrafast wireless, this new machine is said to be more immersive than ever before. And I have to say I am impressed. From opening the box to sending the first email took just 5 minutes. All the files, apps and emails were instantly downloaded from the iCloud. The battery was 94% fully charged. This new machine allows me to do more things than any other computer I’ve owned. Given the migration issues I and colleagues have recently endured at work, this personal IT transformation was absolutely remarkable.
Of course what I was part of is a technological revolution that even the greatest names in communication have found hard to keep up with. It was the Finnish company Nokia who were one of the key developers of what we now all take for granted, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). GSM came to dominate the world of mobile telephony in the 1990s, in mid-2008 accounting for about 3 billion mobile telephone subscribers in the world. The first mobile phone I ever owned was a Nokia.

Nokia is a company dear to my heart. When I first went to Finland to work with nursing students undertaking their degrees in English, Nokia formed the key stone of Finland’s economic, sociological and technological prosperity. Sadly last week Nokia’s share price tumbled more than 3.5 % (to close at €3.63) on the posting of yet more losses. It has been losing the battle against rivals such as Apple's iPhone and mobile phone makers using Google's popular Android software such as HTC. Last week Nokia confirmed plans to cut 3,500 jobs worldwide, including 1,000 out of 1,700 factory jobs in Finland.

Now one of the apps (Mother, an app is short for application software designed to help the user to perform a specific task) I downloaded onto my new iPad (sorry Nokia) was the iFootpath. This app priced at just 69p (and there is an almost tantric symmetry to these numbers) enables you to download free walking guides, complete with photos and landscape directions, background information and so on. The coverage of walks from your front door to the rest of the UK is fantastic, but it’s not always been like that.

This weekend hundreds of walkers will be retracing the steps of those who took part in the Kinder Scout mass trespass. On April 24th 1932, about 400 ramblers set off from the Bowden Bridge quarry on intent on trespassing on to the Duke of Devonshire’s land to reach the Kinder Scout plateau. Half way up they encountered the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers who, after a brief fight, turned the trespassers back. 6 of this group were tried and sentenced to between 2 and 6 months imprisonment.

Their arrest and subsequent imprisonment was a catalyst for a huge wave of public sympathy, and a few months later 10,000 ramblers – the largest number in history – assembled for an access rally in the Winnats Pass, near Castleton, and the pressure for greater access became unstoppable. However it took until 2002 before the Rights of Way Act opened up the countryside completely and absolutely to walkers. And over the past 10 years I, like many other walkers have enjoyed this freedom.

However, the fact that I can use my newly downloaded app to fully enjoy these hard won freedoms to roam brings with it other problems. This week the Daily Telegraph reported the story of a coffee seller in Norwich who refused to sell a customer his single latte because the customer was using his iPhone. The Nursing Times also ran a story about the series of articles this week in the Independent on nurses most of which were fair handed in their analysis of contemporary nursing. But there was one story that picked up on the number of student nurses who have to be told not to text while they are attending their patients. The availability of new technologies, particularly those around communication, raises new issues for us to find answers to, in terms of how we build and sustain our relationships with others. My belief is that in nursing relationships are everything.

And in a week where new communication technologies have been understandably contested in Norway, I took my hat off in respect of the quietly spoken but brilliantly effective prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh. This week she has so refreshingly reminded us all that the spoken word, simply and confidently used, is far more powerful than any form of evil can ever be.