Thursday, September 24, 2009

Countering ...

... nostalgic, uninformed hogwash: Is the Internet melting our brains?
We hear a thousand objections of this sort throughout history: Thoreau objecting to the telegraph, because even though it speeds things up, people won't have anything to say to one another. Then we have Samuel Morse, who invents the telegraph, objecting to the telephone because nothing important is ever going to be done over the telephone because there's no way to preserve or record a phone conversation. There were complaints about typewriters making writing too mechanical, too distant -- it disconnects the author from the words. That a pen and pencil connects you more directly with the page. And then with the computer, you have the whole range of "this is going to revolutionize everything" versus "this is going to destroy everything."
Pen and pencil may connect you more to words qua words, but the typewriter, by enabling you to write almost as fast as you can think, connected you better to language as lived, thought and spoken. Hence, the greater naturalness of prose once the typewriter became the principal tool for writers. The computer advances on this, because you can correct typos immediately, hyphenate and justify the page, and print it out immediately.

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