Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Typewriter Thoughts

I am happy to announce that I finished my project for the course I took back in October.  (It remains to be seen if I get a passing grade on it - but it is done.)

Now remember that the last time I took seminary classes was back in the 1980's.  Back then I didn't have a computer - not even a word processor (remember them?).  When I was in seminary I had a manual typewriter that was passed down to me from my father who did his dissertation on it back in the 1960's.  (Nice thing about manual typewriters - they lasted for decades!)

You might think that using a manual typewriter was a disadvantage, and to a large extent you would be right.  My computer does instant spell checking and also makes suggestions about grammar.  On a computer you can keep different elements of a paper in different places and then just blend them at the end.  You can search a computer file and make changes to the whole paper with only one click. (Handy if you sometimes misspelled the name of one of the authors you quoted repeatedly.  On a computer you can set up a format for things like footnotes or references and never have to think about it again.  Besides that, the computer holds everything you write in a nice neat package - without pages flying about and getting smudged, crumpled or lost.  (Not to mention that typing on a computer is much easier on your fingers than typing on a manual typewriter.)

But on the other hand... The computer makes editing almost too easy - so easy that it is hard to make any progress.  When I should be typing my thoughts and moving on, I am stuck changing things back and forth - trying to get just the right wording.  And that leads to editing mistakes where you leave some of the things you meant to change in the midst of the things you did change... In the old days I did my rough copy ("free writing") on a yellow pad and generally when I typed, except for errors, I had my final copy.

Being able to edit things on a computer is great.  I can move whole chapters from place to place in the paper and the computer changes the page numbers automatically.  Wow!  But on the other hand, I miss seeing the paper start to build up in a stack on the desk - next to the typewriter.  The computer tells you that you have 40 pages typed, but it isn't the same as hefting them and leafing through them.  (And probably mixing them up.)

The typewriter is loud - it clacks and clanks and rings a bell when you return the carriage.  (Any kids are saying, "Return the what?")  The only sound from my laptop is the faint noise from hitting the keys as I type.  I probably hit them harder than necessary - a carryover from the old typewriter days.

The paper is done - it was sent electronically from my computer to the computer of my professor.  Think of the paper we have saved!  Things move onward and forward.

Time to register for my next class!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gone are the days of you type one chapter, I type the next! Remember that?? Good old days? Maybe. ld