Saturday, April 2, 2011

Digital natives and typewriters

The New York Times reports on a “growing trend” among digital natives:

They’re fetishizing old Underwoods, Smith Coronas and Remingtons, recognizing them as well designed, functional and beautiful machines, swapping them and showing them off to friends. At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest.
Gravitas? Whatever. I think it’s terrific that digital natives are recognizing the beauty of manual-typewriter design. But as someone who remembers Eaton’s Corrasable Bond, the tedium of centering titles, the far greater tedium of retyping whole pages after dropping a line in transcription, and the sheer racket, I feel no nostalgia for the typewriter as an object of use.

Related viewing
In Praise of the Typewriter (Life, via Boing Boing)

[No, you can’t have my Olympia.]

comments: 6

normann said...

I cannot imagine doing what I do (translation of central bank documents, financial reporting and journal articles by Bank economists) as quickly and as accurately without a PC connected to the Internet.

You also have electronic keyboards to thank for the absence of clackety-clack clackety-clack clackety-clack, ding! in offices anywhere connected to the power grid. Indeed, nowadays, even with everyone banging away quietly on their PC keyboards, offices are as hushed as morgues.

Still, mechanical typewriters have their charm, as some composers have noted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2LJ1i7222c

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for sharing that link, Normann.

Elaine said...

I typed a million miles on my Smith Corona portable (in tasteful powder blue), a gift of my uncle. It saw me through HS, college, graduate school....and I earned money typing papers for other people-- 35 cents a page as is, or 50 cents a page to fix your spelling and punctuation.

We'd never be able to make money this way now....

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine, your comment makes me realize that it’s been years since I last saw one of those ads on bulletin boards — “Papers typed.” More common now for students to pay someone to write papers for them.

Rob Bowker said...

@normann: slow is kind of the point. The Typosphere [http://typosphere.net] is generally populated by digital natives, though I'd count myself a digital migrant.

Great blog btw!

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Rob!