Just a thought.
Tue, 17 Jan 2006 21:27:55 +0000
Somewhat fed up with staring at the screen, I printed off a few pages so
that I could lay on the bed and read in comfort and a slightly bizarre
thought came to me.
I wondered what it would have been like to print off a 75,000 word
manuscript on a five pin dot matrix printer.
And then I remembered my Corona (that was the model, can't remember the
make) daisy wheel printer, and I cringed at the idea of performing the
exercise on that machine. Lordy that was a noisy beast.
And then I thought, great merciful heavens, people used to type
manuscripts on TYPEWRITERS of all things. I have a feeling that my typing
skills are not up to using a typewriter. At least with a WP it beeps when
I miss a space or hit the wrong letter. And even if it didn't do that, I
could just select 'Check whole text' and let it go about it's business.
And then I thought of the real old days with quill pens and candles for
And then I thought, thank you Charles Babbidge for inventing the computer.
So we've got these great computers, but we still have to type one letter at
a time and organize paragraphs and thoughts just as writers always have.
All we've gained is spell checking and auto formatting and easier copying
without carbons. Not necessarily better or wiser thoughts.
Oh yes. I was also going to say, one could use a voice
I keep thinking I should try to use the handwriting feature of Word on
my PDA. It could be quite useful.
Maybe like me and the voice part of my GPS system.... I don't
know of that handwriting feature. It sounds potentially
interesting. I have a very vague feeling we have discussed
good thought... and there are excellent programs available... it raises
the the question, though, of the intent of written correspondence. maybe
we're in a transition phase. many younger people don't like paper
documents and like that software tends to come without written
instructions in a booklet... and maybe the next step will be audio
instructions. that will be the last nail in the coffin of the dumbing
down of spelling and sentence structure... then people won't even need to
know how to read...
Gee, that's all rather scary, David. No written records at
all for future generations to enjoy. I can't say I like that
reminds me of when i first got a ham radio license. knowing morse code
was mandatory as a backup... but times change and it's not considered
important anymore... and maybe the ability to read will soon go the way
of the ability to write in the U.S. we seem to always be seeking the
lowest common denominator so that we don't offend anyone... :) but i
notice that other countries are far ahead of us at all grade levels... is
it just that they aren't paying attention to what's valued and still
think knowledge is important...? or maybe they're onto something... :-))
I agree with you there, too. Why are these countries ahead of
us? It seems that is increasingly the case.... :-(
And we draw the same way. AutoCad adds a lot of features making a drawing
easier to do, but the design still has to be thought out more or less one
line at a time. And the finished drawing looks just like it would have a
hundred years ago, albeit a bit neater.
And then there's art. I'm studying art history this quarter- the Baroque
17th century to present. Paintings are still made on the same canvas with
the same oils and the same brushes we use now, one stroke at a time.
Artists still use quill pens and ink. But today's artists are nowhere near
as good as the old masters at realistic art.
So what we write isn't any smarter, what we draw looks the same (albeit of
more technologically advanced devices) and what we paint is worse.
Sorry to be a luddite today, but studying the old masters does tend to
restore one's sense of humility.
Is there any reason why a modern-day artist could not be as
good as an old master? I assume, over the course of history,
there will be people with at least equal talent....
Time. No artist today would spend the time the old masters spent on the
huge paintings they made, which sometimes took years. I was surprised to
find that some of their paintings were as much as 12 feet wide and 15 feet
tall-and some of the ceiling frescoes were perhaps 50-75 feet long.
I guess, for one thing, they'd need to have a patron or some
other form of support. Or they'd have to be independently
wealthy. I guess, too, that the payoff in one's lifetime is
not apt to be good--with fairly rare exceptions.
Yes, it would come in handy for filling out forms. I always hated filling
out forms, though. It was so hard to line things up. If potential clients
call and want me to fill out a form, I'm glad I can honestly tell them I
don't have a typewriter.
LOL! But it would still be good for filling out forms. My
handwriting has gotten pretty abysmal....
one of my annoyances is forms on the internet that require you to print,
fill out with pen and mail. the smarter ones at least give you a form where
you can type in the data and return electronically.
Yes, that would be better--and it makes more sense in this day
As a former secretary who had to use a typewriter, I heartily agree with
your sentiments. For four years, I worked for an attorney. Most of the
documents I typed needed from four to seven copies. Carbon copies. Each of
which had to be erased, along with the original, if I made an error. Wills
didn't have to be erased. You just took out the paper and started over,
even if the error was near the bottom of the page. Later I had another job
where I used a Correctible Selectric and a photocopier. That was a vast
improvement, but you still couldn't move a paragraph around the way you can
on a computer. I love my computer - when I'm not hating it, that is. ;-)
Yeah, with Microsoft you get an error message saying you need to fix an
error, but it doesn't give you a clue as to what the error might be. ;-)
I remember thinking electric typewriters were to die for. I always did lousy
at typing tests on manuals in school because I have short fingers and
sometimes one would get caught in between the rows. It's hard to build up
speed with a finger caught. Then when I was working the DisplayWriter came
along and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I agree. That is really annoying.
dear mick, as your senior by at least 20 decades.... I will speak to you
from the years of history... :-))
- to be able to print a large document on a 5-pin dot matrix printer was
a sheer delight... :) it meant not having to wait for some typist or
typists to work days and days and days to get the darn thing done... and
then to find a need to rework and retype the whole thing... noisy, but
efficient... and several of them were quite small. mine had a foot print
about the size of a an 8x11 sheet of paper. and i didn't have to pay a
fortune for ink cartridges... :-)) the secretary for dept had a bigger,
quieter, dot-matrix printer and it was faster. but to use it, i had to
copy document to a 5 1/4" floppy and ask her to print it when she wasn't
busy... was much preferred to have my own small noisy printer, instead.
it was a matter of choices... :) the dot-matrix printer gave me freedom
to print on demand. that was a real perk in 1983.
- when our son went to college we gave him a corona typewriter - an
electric model with the choice of white or blank ribbons for correction.
boy, did i envy our son... ... our home had nothing so grand...
- all of my college papers were done on an old royal typewriter. a heavy
beast and required strong fingers to make it move. and i typed slowly and
deliberately and didn't have to make massive corrections... and
professors knew of the difficulty of the typewriter and were not picky on
a few typos or other errors in presentation. and they didn't require
electricity either... :-)) and managers didn't demand that their
secretaries retype endless times as the manager tweaked a sentence here
and there. once typed, the document was done. with computers, the
document seems to never be done... ... i recall a secretary i knew in
the 80's, who had just been switched from a selectric typewriter to a PC
with multimate. the boss was no longer satisfied with a letter of good
content... now he wanted different type fonts, a graphic or two, border
around the page, header and footer, and multiple columns. where she once
could knock out a one page memo in 10 minutes or so, she was now
averaging 3-4 hours per memo to make them 'prettier'... :)) - and
quality of content went down...
- i agree - i couldn't survive without word processing software, but
that's only because the pace of life is so much faster. now when i attend
a meeting, people ask for charts, graphs, multi-color, embedded documents
and charts and weblinks and animation and expect to have in a day or
two.... life had some benefits when a typed document took a week... the
more features that are embedded into software, the more people will
demand them as the minimum acceptable...
OK, OK... i'm grumbling - but it's because i'm on a writing
assignment.... text needs to be perfect, multiple fonts, indentation, use
of bullets, color, bar charts, graphics, calculations, some animation,
indexed, table of contents, in print, in slides and on the web. once upon
a time... grumble, grumble,.... :)
The scary part of depending on electronic media is its almost total
obsolescence in short time periods. Note all the history that has been lost
on 78rpm records, 8 track cassettes, old DOS and other computer languages.
My last employer lost a ton of home written engineering programs in Fortran
when they switched from a VAX to Win based micros because no one knew both
Fortran and C+ to make the conversion.
Meanwhile, Gutenberg's Bible is still readable. I think we had better not
lose the ability to either read or create paper documents like books,
paintings, drawings and photographs- they are the only truly timeless
records of history we have. There is no way these messages will be readable
in the 22nd century, or even later in this one-regardless of their worth.
It is hard to imagine something being done on the scale you
mention, too. Who could commission such a thing now?
And didn't they have to mix all their own paint? it didn't come in
tubes back then.
You really know how to make a person feel ancient. LOL
Norma - sharpening her quill