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

By Dennis Baron

Desktops, now the writer's device of selection, are nonetheless blamed through skeptics for various ills, from rushing writing as much as the purpose of recklessness, to complicating or trivializing the writing strategy, to destroying the English language itself.

</em>A larger Pencil</em> places our complicated, still-evolving hate-love dating with pcs and the net into viewpoint, describing how the electronic revolution affects our studying and writing practices, and the way the most recent applied sciences range from what got here earlier than. The ebook explores our use of pcs as writing instruments in mild of the historical past of verbal exchange know-how, a heritage of ways we like, worry, and truly use our writing technologies--not simply pcs, but additionally typewriters, pencils, and clay pills. Dennis Baron indicates that almost 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 used to be "impersonal and noisy" and could "destroy the artwork of handwriting." either pencils and desktops have been created for projects that had not anything to do with writing. Pencils, crafted by way of woodworkers for marking up their forums, have been fast repurposed via writers and artists. the pc crunched numbers, now not phrases, until eventually writers observed it because the subsequent writing desktop. Baron additionally explores the hot 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 engaging background of our tangled dealings with quite a lot of writing tools, from historical papyrus to the trendy machine. With dozens of illustrations and plenty of colourful anecdotes, the booklet will enthrall someone drawn to language, literacy, or writing.

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Yet Henderson has a problem with technology: he doesn’t like computers. In 1993 Henderson founded the Lead Pencil Club, a place where like-minded people could express their dislike of the new technology and celebrate the good old ways of writing. Looking for literary precedents to support his anticomputer stand, Henderson applauds the fact that in the very first chapter of Walden, Henry David Thoreau disparaged the information superhighway of his day, a telegraph line connecting Maine to Texas. As Thoreau put it, “Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate” (1849).

In 1993 Henderson founded the Lead Pencil Club, a place where like-minded people could express their dislike of the new technology and celebrate the good old ways of writing. Looking for literary precedents to support his anticomputer stand, Henderson applauds the fact that in the very first chapter of Walden, Henry David Thoreau disparaged the information superhighway of his day, a telegraph line connecting Maine to Texas. As Thoreau put it, “Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate” (1849).

These are not simple matters. A pencil enthusiast can’t just go out to the garage workshop—or a cabin in the woods—and make a pencil. Frank Remington (1957) reports that to produce the modern wood pencil requires 40 different materials and 125 different production steps. Remington estimated that it would cost a 1950s do-it-yourselfer more than $50 to craft that pencil. org/index. cfm). Not only that, but Thoreau’s pencils weren’t exactly cheap. 25 cents apiece. That comes to $2 a pop in 2008 dollars.

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