Download A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital by Dennis Baron PDF

By Dennis Baron

Pcs, now the writer's instrument of selection, are nonetheless blamed by way of skeptics for numerous ills, from rushing writing as much as the purpose of recklessness, to complicating or trivializing the writing technique, to destroying the English language itself.

</em>A larger Pencil</em> places our advanced, still-evolving hate-love dating with desktops and the net into viewpoint, describing how the electronic revolution affects our analyzing and writing practices, and the way the newest applied sciences fluctuate from what got here prior to. The booklet explores our use of pcs as writing instruments in gentle of the background of communique know-how, a background of the way we like, worry, and truly use our writing technologies--not simply pcs, but in addition typewriters, pencils, and clay pills. Dennis Baron exhibits that just about all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted initially with anxiousness and outrage: the printing press disrupted the "almost non secular connection" among the author and the web page; the typewriter was once "impersonal and noisy" and could "destroy the paintings of handwriting." either pencils and desktops have been created for initiatives that had not anything to do with writing. Pencils, crafted through woodworkers for marking up their forums, have been speedy repurposed via writers and artists. the pc crunched numbers, no longer phrases, till writers observed it because the subsequent writing laptop. Baron additionally explores the recent genres that the pc has introduced: e-mail, the moment message, the internet 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 engaging heritage of our tangled dealings with quite a lot of writing tools, from historical papyrus to the fashionable desktop. With dozens of illustrations and lots of colourful anecdotes, the publication will enthrall an individual drawn to language, literacy, or writing.

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Extra resources for A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution

Sample text

At their most powerful, the technologies of literacy control not just who can read and write, but also what can and can’t be said. Civil and religious authorities alike insist on their imprimatur—literally, their permission to print—to license and censor writing, to direct it toward politically or spiritually desirable ends. Today it’s a given in American society that literacy is a universal good, that reading and writing are essential for good citizenship, not to mention economic success, and in many parts of the world literacy has come to separate the haves from the have-nots as effectively as money or land does.

By the 1990s, the neoLuddite target had become computers, not mechanized looms, although most modern followers of Ludd or Kaczynski are less demonstrative, wrecking neither machinery nor lives, but contenting themselves instead with complaints about the impact that computers have on contemporary life, or simply unplugging their machines. ■ ■ ■ DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME Using the technology of the mass media helped Ted Kaczynski get his words before the public, and it helped catch him as well. But the Unabomber could not have carried out his antitechnology campaign without the technology of bomb making.

Com. doesn’t typically draw many readers. In contrast, self-published websites, and, more recently, highly personal blogs and space pages, seem not to go unread. Website visits don’t necessarily translate into soap sales, but at least critics who worry that computers are ruining our literacy should be reassured by indications that the people who visit Tide on the web, or the growing number of blogs and Facebook entries, are actually reading what they find there, and many leave comments as well. In fact, the web has become so compelling that one enterprising manufacturer of high-end appliances actually put a webbrowsing computer into a refrigerator, right next to the ice dispenser.

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