Chris from Off the Shore of Orion, whose been off her blog, but on other social media, wonders:
What piece of technology would you hate the most to lose? Which piece of technology do you wish would just disappear?
The former is quite easy; the latter, not so much.
I am a lousy typist. I used to use tons of Wite-Out and those weird little strips that would take up a letter from the already-typed page. But it was tedious and exhausting. Clearly, my favorite technology that has been developed in my lifetime is the word processor. It has made the creative process INCREDIBLY easier. Oops, I typed an n when I meant an m; no problem. Backspace and correct.
I remember having this Sears typewriter back in the 1980s that had about a page worth of memory, so you could write before it typed about a line of text, and there was this narrow screen on it, so you could see a little bit of what you had written. It was an improvement, but not like the chance to view, save, and change a large document.
If I were dependent on the old technology, I wouldn’t be a librarian, for I would still be working on my graduate school paper from 20 years ago, which ran about 50 pages long (and wasn’t very good). When I first composed it, the sections were structured 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c. But once the first draft was completed, I realized I had it all wrong; it should have been arranged 1a, 2a, 3a, 1b, 2b, 3b, 1c, 2c, 3c. So I cut and pasted over 2/3s of the document. If I had had to RETYPE it…
I don’t know what kind of typist Jaquandor is, but I’m sure that he is appreciating editing the text of his book or two, including Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title), on a word processor, rather than retyping every draft. BTW, I think is rather awesome that he’s doing that. You should read what he says about writing, with a wife and a kid and a job, in response to this column, which I sent him.
And of course, the word processing mode eventually made this whole blogging thing possible, which means, theoretically, that we could have a whole bunch of Thomas Paines out there, speaking truth to power. We don’t, of course, and people write all sorts of garbage, but that’s not the fault of the technology.
This is why I get extremely nervous about those sneaky draconian bills such as ACTA, designed presumably to protect against copyright infringement, but which would have a chilling effect on free speech.
On the other side of the original question, it’s more difficult to say. I could pick getting rid of the drones we fire into Pakistan. But the technology itself is neutral; a similar methodology might be used to blow up that asteroid that’s going to hit the planet, or to play video games.
The same technology that might infect thousands of people with some terrible virus might also be used to save them.
Somewhat off-topic, but Mark McGuire noted that “Facebook announced it has hit one billion users. Do you think you will still be using FB in 5 years? What social media platform do you think you will be using the most by then?” My answer is that I haven’t a clue. I didn’t know, 10 years ago, I’d be blogging; three years ago, I ignored Facebook altogether. I might have said three years ago, Twitter was pointless (I didn’t, but I could have), yet here I am tweeting daily, mostly things that I blog, to be sure. And I would not have thought you could so easily link them.
I WILL say that planned obsolescence is a terrible trait in manufacturing, but that’s more a methodology than a technology.
Oh, you know what technology I wish would disappear? The eight-track. A stupid technology that would make a lot of noise in the middle of a song. That’s something that should go. Wait: it did. Lots of bad technology goes away on its own.