Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Retro Machinery

There's an interesting reflection on SF Novelists about how hard it used to be to rewrite your novels when you had to type the whole thing multiple times on an actual typewriter.

Word processing programs are certainly a gift to the writer who likes to rewrite.

I have no excuse for not re-doing my NaNoWriMo pieces. It would be a lot easier to do than if I had to retype everything, but not easy enough that I actually get around to it.

However, I can certainly speak to the fact that word processing makes working in an office a lot different. Imagine typing up all the documents I work with with every day on a typewriter. Memos, letters (multiple copies, of course), lists of tasks. Spreadsheets?

Yes, typing used to be a much more specialized skill.

Also, people used to be more tolerant of errors and imperfect corrections. I've seen documents in old files where typographical errors are crossed out and the word retyped, or simply corrected in pen, and they just left it that way, because obviously you don't want to retype an entire page to correct one error.

Nowadays, you expect to see pretty much perfect typing in any sort of official document, because it's easy to fix and reprint if you catch a mistake.


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