Blink twice, or bend to tie a shoe, and the world of technology speeds by… or it will, if you let it.
I started writing on notebook paper with number 2 pencils–easier to erase and correct–about a million years ago, or so it seemed. In high school I took a typing class, something that the school jocks looked down upon. “You gonna be a secretary, Scott?” Yeah. I heard that more than once. But perhaps taking the shorthand course contributed something to that unwanted refrain. High school was a mean place, even back in the dark ages.
One day I got a tiny, tinny portable typewriter. Oh, joy! It wasn’t a boat-anchor like the 900 pound Underwood I had learned on, it rattled, jumped around, and the damn thing couldn’t spell worth spit, but I loved it. A typewriter in my home! No. I typewriter in my ROOM! Imagine that. I can think of no better way to learn about frustration and disappointment than trying to write a perfect document on an (almost a toy) typewriter. Keep in mind that correct-tape, White-Out, and even ink-erasers had not yet been envisioned. Was it better than lined paper and number 2 pencils? I thought so. I wanted to think so, anyway.
In 1977, there began a collision of my two most important worlds. In August of that year, Tandy Corp. released the TRS-80, and before long there appeared on the scene, the first ever word processor for the home. Some of you tech freaks may recall that Wang Laboratories had released a commercial word processor in 1972, but the machines were humongous, expensive, and complicated, and were certainly out of reach of a home user.
Did getting word processors in the home change the way we write? Clearly it did. It also changed writing quality, world-wide. Once the pain and frustration of the technology evaporated, writing became something that anyone with an idea could do.
The advent of the Internet, electronic publishing, and Internet Writing Communities, writing took another step, erm… forward. We now find the Net filled with works of every stripe, from true masterpiece to stories and novel (attempts) that are barely literate.
It comes down to this. Technology is wonderful. Technology is delightful. Technology is only as good as the skill and effort put into using it, however. An unused spell-checker is a sad, sad thing.
This page on Uphill Writing will find, display, and encourage the use of some of the wonderful technologies available, and to evangelizing new technologies wherever they are found.