Thursday, March 1, 2012

Future definition of a typewriter

William Pannapacker has written a great article on typewriting that appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and with his permission I've also added it to my collection of "Typewriter Tributes."

Here I wanted to share one of the readers' comments on his article, which I think is perfect. (I fixed a few typos.)

We really aren't old until the definition of a typewriter becomes:
The typewriter was a device used back in the 20th century that printed characters one at a time as the keys were pressed on its keyboard onto a storage device known as paper, which was highly susceptible to fire and could not easily be shared with more than one other unless additional copies were made using a labor or machine-intensive process. Some advanced typewriters used electricity and had the ability to delete single characters at a time but older versions did not require electricity and could only have corrections made by applying a white liquid to the paper called "correction fluid" to cover up the errors, thus destroying the audit trail. In the latter half of the 20th century, the computer made such devices obsolete except for their use on equally obsolete forms that had a crude copying technology called "carbon paper". Carbon paper allowed individuals to simultaneously copy material onto multiple pages without the use of the now ubiquitous photocopier. When corrections were made using carbon paper, the carbon paper required the use of an eraser. The eraser was a correction device found at the end of another obsolete device known as the pencil. A pencil allowed people to make corrections by rubbing against paper, thus lifting the graphite impression left in the paper by the pencil. Luckily, these indentations were usually still present, allowing individuals to view the audit trail. However, this ability to correct is, of course, a defect since the audit trail is obfuscated. In any case, all of these technologies suffered from the defect that it was impossible to exactly determine who had actually written the documents in question. Thus in order to achieve proper identification people used another device called a pen to "sign their names" using an archaic process called "cursive writing", which no one really understands or uses now that biometric chips instantly transmit identification signals onto all transmissions. Correction fluid was needed to eliminate errors when pen was put to paper, which again destroyed the audit trail. However, the bigger problem was that names were not automatically attached exclusively to one individual. It is reported that the number of individuals with the moniker of "John Smith" may have exceeded one million. This made tracing the originator of the documents very difficult. The solution was that each signature was supposed to be unique but inventions like the "autopen" destroyed this reliability. The typewriter was replaced with the ancestor of the biometric chip called a computer. It had the nasty habit of rebooting spontaneously without warning, which led many to decide to stick to the older technology. Only with the passage of legislation mandating biometric chips in all individuals did we achieve the elimination of all of this environmentally wasteful material. Now we instantly transmit all information and thought to all individuals around the world using our advanced biometric devices. This has the additional advantage of allowing governments to instantly detect subversive content, know exactly who has said what, and require individuals to attend reeducation camps to ensure that they are fully in compliance with all regulations concerning attitudes and belief systems.


deek said...

Nice article and enjoyable comments. Some of the comments are dead on and some show ignorance, but in all, its a good cross-section of the culture, with respect to the typewriter.

I still shake my head when I see someone write where does one find a ribbon. It takes but a moment to use a search engine...

MTCoalhopper said...

Oh, shucks. I wanted to post the link to this article. My girlfriend's aunt sent it to me, day before yesterday. There were quite a few points in that article where I wanted to make corrective comments, including the suggestion that the readers come find our little site, right here.

And yes, Deek, it's mind-boggling that people don't know where to find ribbons. I buy mine at the local office supply superstore. Baco ribbon is three hours away from me, too.

deek said...

Yeah, I agree MTC, but even those of us not in the "know", its just ignorance or more likely, laziness to not find out before making a comment like that.

I mean, its one thing to say that in person. That, I can totally appreciate. But, someone sitting in front of their computer or with a tablet or smartphone updating a comment on a webpage/blog, obviously has the opportunity to spend thirty seconds to type that in their search engine of choice and see millions of results.

Just a pet peeve of mine, obviously.

I mean, I have no idea where I could go about finding a plethora of things, but I know damn well I can type it in a search engine and find out!

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