By Dennis Baron

Desktops, now the writer's instrument of selection, are nonetheless blamed by way of skeptics for various 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 complicated, still-evolving hate-love dating with desktops and the net into standpoint, describing how the electronic revolution affects our interpreting and writing practices, and the way the newest applied sciences fluctuate from what got here sooner than. The ebook explores our use of desktops as writing instruments in mild of the background of conversation know-how, a heritage of ways we adore, worry, and really use our writing technologies--not simply pcs, but in addition typewriters, pencils, and clay capsules. Dennis Baron exhibits that just about all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted at the start 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 artwork of handwriting." either pencils and pcs have been created for initiatives that had not anything to do with writing. Pencils, crafted by means of woodworkers for marking up their forums, have been quick repurposed through writers and artists. the pc crunched numbers, now not phrases, till writers observed it because the subsequent writing desktop. Baron additionally explores the recent genres that the pc has introduced: e mail, the moment message, the internet web page, the weblog, 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 background of our tangled dealings with quite a lot of writing tools, from old papyrus to the trendy machine. With dozens of illustrations and lots of colourful anecdotes, the e-book will enthrall somebody attracted to language, literacy, or writing.

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

Example text

Most people don’t want to smash computers. And they don’t go to the other extreme of putting them on refrigerators. They simply accept computers for what they can do, which is a lot, and grumble or panic when they break down, which is often. Others, like Henderson, wax nostalgic for pencils, or see romance in the quill pen. Not too many people miss writing on clay tablets. Not all the old ways are good ways. The pencil may be old—the first pencils appeared in Europe in the sixteenth century—but like the computer today and the telegraph in 1849, the pencil is a communication technology.

Do-it-yourself may be a challenging, more satisfying, possibly less alienating method of getting the goods than off-the-shelf, if it goes right. That explains why Home Depot is always so crowded. But in the end, as many bombers whose products detonate prematurely find out, not all wheels are worth reinventing, and not all DIY projects are worth doing yourself. ” But while the internet continues to thrive, Luddites on Line has vanished. Most of the neo-Luddite sites that do survive are content to launch sarcastic attacks against computers, or to yearn for the good old days when the 30 ■ A Better Pencil pencil was king.

While the members of the Lead Pencil Club fetishize the pencil as “responding directly to the mind” (Henderson 1997), Thoreau did not ascribe transcendent value to pencils. As Petroski sees it, Thoreau’s goal Thoreau’s Pencil ■ 39 was simply to make money. Once he developed the best pencil of his day, Thoreau actually claimed that he saw no sense in trying to improve on his design (Petroski 1990, 122). It is easy for us to think of Thoreau only as a romantic who lived deliberately, disobeyed civil authority when he thought it wrong, and single-handedly turned Walden Pond into a national historic site (it’s actually a Massachusetts state reservation).

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