Monday, June 23, 2008

Do computers give us more?

June 23, 2008 - Where would we be without computers? We can write, backspace, contemplate, edit, make changes and all before we commit to the save button. Ah, the save button... we can even go back in and make further changes to the original changes and re-save. Ah, the re-save. I would certainly never write daily if not for the computer. Still, we fight with networks, access, file dumps, data loss, crashes, memory leaks, blue screens of death.

Question is... would you ever think of going back to the old typewriter? That backspace? Required a mess of liquid paper or worse, a complete re-type of the page. Edits? Go through with the red pencil, give it to someone who can spell (no auto spell-check), and re-type the whole page. Change a paragraph? Re-type the whole page. If you need the backspace as much as I do... re-type everything over and over and over again.

But what about before the typewriter? Could you edit your work on a lithograph or earlier yet, the woodblock? There is much debate among typewriter enthusiasts as to the original date and inventor of the typewriter, but it appears that there is consensus on Christopher Latham Sholes who on June 23, 1868 received the first patent for the typewriter. 1. Celebrate Typewriter Day by being thankful we've come this far. It would have happened one way or the other, but today's historic patent has changed our lives forever. All those typos were getting too hard to take.

Newspaper columnists all over the world rejoice the day the word processor came in to their lives. Today, there is no longing for the 'old days', or of life without the computer. It may not be a coincidence that today is also National Columnists Day. Read a few of your favourite columns, and be glad we aren't still writing on typewriters. The computer has made it very easy for anyone to write their thoughts, the internet has made it easy to publish them to a public forum. The plethora of thoughts and forums for discussion are an amazing progression, but there was an art to writing that is now lost forever. There was an art to forming your thoughts and sentence structure before going to the page (and an ability to spell). The Erma Bombeck's and William Safire's of the world were few and far between.

I'm sure our world full of computers poses it's own challenges to the writing process. Work gets lost, thoughts spill on to the page far too easily. Columns ramble. The go on and on and on. I mean, some of these writers just keep putting words out because they can. There isn't a bottom of the page. Seriously, you can really get in to something and continue to add new lines, new thoughts, or just expound endlessly on a single thought. Today's columnists can really put their words out there. Computers make our lives easier... and our columnists more wordy. Need I go on?

1. Christopher Latham Sholes recieved the first patent for a typewriter (Wikipedia)

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