Writing technology

Topic #281:

Does technology help you write?

One comical thing about writers and writing is they often ask each other if there is a secret tool, or software, they use that makes writing easier. Some writers swear by a particular tool, or keyboard, or special software (or WordPress plugin), while others see tools as ways to help with scheduling, or writing related tasks, but see the process of writing simply about putting their but in the chair.

Now that you’ve been writing for awhile, does technology help or not help you in the writing process? What do you wish a tool like WordPress could do to help?

That’s a silly one, writing itself is technology! Yes, I know what he means, but it always irks me a little when someone seems to assume that nothing is technology unless it needs electricity or contains a microchip. I always suspect that they’d flat out refuse to believe me if I told them that power tools existed before the invention of the steam engine. (Check out the Hierapolis sawmill!)

To answer the actual question, writing on a computer is significantly easier for me than using a pen. (Or, say, quill & parchment.) Typing is much faster than writing, so I don’t fall as far behind myself. When I type the wrong words I can just backspace, and built-in spell-checking software helps me keep my vowels straight. If nothing else, various modern tools certainly help me compensate for my dysgraphia.

I don’t know what WordPress could realistically do to help more. Heck, even unrealistically the best I’m coming up with is a telepathic interface, which would be fast but require a lot of editing. I am going to try installing and using several standalone blogging programs during this week, since I’m really sick of the poor response of the browser editor and copying over from LibreOffice still requires lots of formatting. We’ll see how well those work and if I judge any of them worth keeping.

While I’m at this, let’s take a moment to talk about writing itself. It really is a technology, an incredibly useful tool that changed how people interact. There almost seems something inevitable about it since writing was invented at least four times completely independently of each other. It was considered magic for a long time, and still has mystic overtones, and no wonder!

Imagine, if you will, what it would be like as a peasant in the ancient world, who had never encountered writing before. You’re asked to take a letter from one noble to another, and somehow the second one knows what the first wanted to say! You delivered a message without knowing the message yourself, clearly those strange symbols must be magical. How mysterious that must have seemed when it was a rare skill.

With the power of writing even the dead can still speak, in their own words. We needn’t take someone else’s word for what they may have said.

I think writing is probably the most powerful technology we have ever created, at least in terms of its impact on daily human life. Our entire civilization depends on it, it is a prerequisite for most high technology, and now we’re able to more or less take it for granted. Marvelous.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on October 16, 2011, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yea, I agree, nowadays people don’t realize how important writing is and how unusual it was for people to write and read a very long time ago. Good post!

    • What really seems bizarre to me was that in many places nobles could read but not write, they had scribes to do that for them. It’s like they were going out of their way to have a special kind of self-important laziness.

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