Once, on a countryside ramble, I passed a flock of sheep grazing in a field. They got spooked by my presence and decided to run through a big hole in a wire fence which divided the field. One, however had become separated from the main flock and tried to join the rest of them by taking the shortest possible route, which meant going through the unbroken part of the fence. I stood and watched the sheep for a few minutes as it head butted away at the wire fence getting more and more desperate. The big hole was only a few feet away from it but it failed to step back and see the bigger picture.
How stupid I thought.
Recently, I bought a presentation remote and to trial the device I connected my laptop to a bigger monitor. At one stage, as I moved elements in the program I was using on the laptop, the pointer disappeared off the laptop screen and suddenly appeared on the larger monitor. Try as I might, I couldn’t now operate the program on the laptop because the pointer had moved to the large monitor and I didn’t know how it had got there. Getting more and more desperate I swore at the computer for getting a glitch and shut it down.
After restarting, an untitled folder I had accidentally managed to place on the desktop of the large monitor with my wild, blind keystrokes of frustration, was still there and I wanted to get rid of it. In an attempt to see if the folder was hiding behind an open panel on the desktop of the laptop I moved the panel to one side instead of closing it. Imagine my astonishment when the disappearing part of the panel slid out of view on the laptop but then appeared on the large monitor. Suddenly, it all made sense. The mouse was not flicking from one monitor to the other, it was simply travelling across the virtual space of the two combined monitors.
It had taken a lot of head-butting at that virtual fence to realise that a few feet further along was a big hole I could have walked through to find my pointer. I imagined the sheep in my earlier story watching me and muttering to herself, ‘Huh, these humans are just like us – stupid animals.’