I have been neglecting my blog somewhat of late because I have been indulging in some “real writing”. I have been writing two articles, in German, on the history of astronomy for two different amateur astronomy journals. One article is finished and is being printed but the editor of the other piece wants me to add an additional section and although I have completed the necessary background work the new section doesn’t want to get written but that’s not what I want to talk about.
I put the ‘real writing’ in the opening section in scare quotes because as I had the thought, earlier this evening, that led to these musings that was how the whole thing appeared in my mind. I actually became interested in the history of computing fairly early but I came to the computer and the Internet relatively late and although I now have my own blog, visit, read and comment on other blogs, am a Wikipedia editor, communicate with people all over the world by email and even conduct a large part of my work by exchange of computer files via the intertubes for me ‘real writing’ is still something that appears in print on paper.
I grew up in a house full of books, and I mean full, the last time I moved house with my father, at the age of 17, we first had to construct bookshelves for 10 000 books before we could move in. I taught my self to read by the time I was three and had my own library card before I started primary school. I have read comics, books, encyclopaedias, cornflake packets and anything else with words printed on it all of my life.
Somehow words on a computer monitor are not real. If I write and post something on my blog, even though I know that it is being read, it doesn’t make the same mental impression in my mind as the thought of something that is going to appear in print.
I assume that the generation who have grown up with their own personal computers since they can talk will not see any difference between paper and cyber publishing, they will probably even regard paper publishing as somehow retrograde and old fashioned. Thinking these thoughts make me feel somehow old and displaced I belong to the print dinosaurs destined to become extinct in the social evolution of the computer age.