By Dennis Baron
Desktops, now the writer's instrument of selection, are nonetheless blamed by means of skeptics for quite a few ills, from dashing writing as much as the purpose of recklessness, to complicating or trivializing the writing strategy, to destroying the English language itself.
</em>A higher Pencil</em> places our advanced, still-evolving hate-love courting with pcs and the web into viewpoint, describing how the electronic revolution impacts our studying and writing practices, and the way the newest applied sciences range from what got here earlier than. The booklet explores our use of desktops as writing instruments in gentle of the background of verbal exchange know-how, a heritage of the way we like, worry, and truly use our writing technologies--not simply pcs, but in addition typewriters, pencils, and clay capsules. Dennis Baron indicates that just about all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted initially with nervousness and outrage: the printing press disrupted the "almost religious connection" among the author and the web page; the typewriter was once "impersonal and noisy" and might "destroy the paintings of handwriting." either pencils and desktops have been created for initiatives that had not anything to do with writing. Pencils, crafted via woodworkers for marking up their forums, have been fast repurposed by means of writers and artists. the pc crunched numbers, no longer phrases, until eventually writers observed it because the subsequent writing laptop. Baron additionally explores the recent genres that the pc has introduced: electronic mail, the moment message, the net web page, the web publication, social-networking pages like MySpace and fb, and communally-generated texts like Wikipedia and the city Dictionary, let alone YouTube.
Here then is an interesting background of our tangled dealings with a variety of writing tools, from historical papyrus to the trendy desktop. With dozens of illustrations and lots of colourful anecdotes, the booklet will enthrall an individual attracted to language, literacy, or writing.
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Additional resources for A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution
Even though paper is common enough to be a throwaway item today, the ﬁrst dot matrix printers required special tractor feed paper, sold only in large quantities, that was both expensive and hard to ﬁnd. Today twentyfour-hour grocery stores sell reams of computer paper. Staples and Ofﬁce Depot didn’t create the computer revolution in America, but they certainly facilitated its spread by setting up a reliable supply infrastructure. But even after people accepted the basic assumption that the written word could be useful and reliable, they greeted each new writing technology with renewed suspicion.
In 1821 Charles Dunbar discovered a deposit of reasonably good plumbago in Bristol, New Hampshire, and he and his brother-in-law, John Thoreau, went into the pencil business in Concord, Massachusetts. By 1824 Thoreau pencils were winning recognition. Their graphite, while better than most of the local ore, was not as pure as Borrowdale, and since the Conté process was unknown in the United States, American pencils, though cheaper than imports, remained inferior (Petroski 1990, 108–9). Henry Thoreau set about to remedy this deﬁciency, to put American pencils ﬁrst in the hearts of American consumers.
We don’t know how the wheel was received when it ﬁrst came on the scene, but we can assume that the early supporters of the wheel saw it as the best thing since sliced bread—or they would have seen it that way had anybody at the time known what sliced bread was. But it’s also reasonable to assume that the wheel, like all new technologies, had its detractors. The antiwheelers probably argued that the old ways of locomotion—walking, running, skipping, crawling, riding on the backs of unfriendly animals—were better; that the wheel sped up the pace of modern life way too much; that round technologies would place mankind on a slippery slope leading precipitously downward to the end of civilization as they knew it.
A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron