Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: www.booksandsuch.com (Writing from the Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
Ah, the wonders of technology. You’re sitting in front of your computer, perhaps in your pajamas, and I’m sitting in front of mine–fully dressed. Most of you have never met me, but we’re communicating as you read my thoughts.
That’s a wonder.
It’s more than King Tut ever had or could have imagined (even assuming he could read).
Don’t you love technology?
I happen to be a techno-phobe. The nuclear engineer, physics majors, math majors, machinist and biology student members of my family all have more technology skills than I possess–and we never forget it. My one son claims that I’d make the perfect Beta tester–I can make technology fall apart by the simple act of trying to type in what I see in the instruction book. I’m that good.
And yet, I love what technology–when I can get it to work– accomplishes.
The history of the written word has never seen such a tool as the word processor, much less a computer. My father actually took a typesetting class in high school and considered a career organizing small blocks of type into a tray for a printer. We’ve come that far in such a short time.
When I copy edited for The UCLA Daily Bruin thirty-five years ago, we used a sharp stylus to cut and paste typeset copy into the right spot on the long paper galleys before sending them off to the physical printer. (And on more than one glorious occasion, put together a fake USC Daily Trojan as a prank . . . ) We didn’t have typeface choices unless we asked for them well in advance. Nowadays, for me to highlight a word and then click italicize is sheer joy.
E-mail is another glorious invention. My father’s father worked for the U.S. postal service for twenty years. He won an award once for being the fastest mail sorter at his post office. What would he make of being able to send not just a missive but an entire manuscript over space with just a click?
Even during my tenure here at Books & Such, the amount of mail we process and the paper we go through has diminished, saving forests full of trees.
As a writer, I can keep research in one place. I can scan documents I want to look at later. I can read entire books on line. I can find obscure books at local libraries and sometimes open them on my screen. All for free.
While I didn’t like Google books as a royalty-receiving writer, I loved them as a genealogist. The resources available to me through Google Books was extraordinary (it’s changed now with the lawsuit, but I can still find some things).
And who in their right mind would want to write with a pen, much less clatter on a typewriter?
I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could as well. I’m just thankful I’ve lived long enough to experience the ease of writing and doing research that 2011 provides.
Even when I can’t get the technology to work properly. Where are all the scientists in my family when I need them?
What about you? What technology tools do you appreciate the most?
And which ones discourage you the most? 🙂