By Dennis Baron
Pcs, now the writer's device of selection, are nonetheless blamed by way of skeptics for numerous ills, from rushing writing as much as the purpose of recklessness, to complicating or trivializing the writing procedure, to destroying the English language itself.
</em>A higher Pencil</em> places our advanced, still-evolving hate-love dating with pcs and the net into viewpoint, describing how the electronic revolution affects our examining and writing practices, and the way the most recent applied sciences vary from what got here prior to. The publication explores our use of pcs as writing instruments in mild of the heritage of communique know-how, a historical past of ways we like, worry, and truly use our writing technologies--not simply pcs, but in addition typewriters, pencils, and clay drugs. Dennis Baron indicates that almost all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted in the beginning with anxiousness and outrage: the printing press disrupted the "almost non secular connection" among the author and the web page; the typewriter was once "impersonal and noisy" and may "destroy the paintings of handwriting." either pencils and pcs have been created for initiatives that had not anything to do with writing. Pencils, crafted via woodworkers for marking up their forums, have been fast repurposed by means of writers and artists. the pc crunched numbers, now not phrases, until eventually writers observed it because the subsequent writing laptop. Baron additionally explores the recent genres that the pc has introduced: e-mail, the moment message, the internet web page, the weblog, social-networking pages like MySpace and fb, and communally-generated texts like Wikipedia and the city Dictionary, let alone YouTube.
Here then is an interesting background of our tangled dealings with quite a lot of writing tools, from old papyrus to the fashionable computer. With dozens of illustrations and plenty of colourful anecdotes, the ebook will enthrall somebody drawn to language, literacy, or writing.
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Extra resources for A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution
Despite his own silence on the subject of pencils, Thoreau devoted ten years of his life to improving pencil technology at his family’s pencil factory. In one of his most famous essays, Emerson argued for self-reliance. Thoreau practiced self-reliance not just by building a cabin at Walden Pond, but also by building a better pencil. As Petroski tells it, the pencil industry in the nineteenth century was buffeted by such vagaries as the unpredictable supply of graphite, dwindling cedar forests (cedar proved the best wood for pencil casings), protective tariffs, and, for much of its history, an international consumer preference for British-made pencils.
He is a mainstream literary ﬁgure, director of the Pushcart Press, which showcases some of the best American contemporary short stories, essays, and poems. Yet Henderson has a problem with technology: he doesn’t like computers. In 1993 Henderson founded the Lead Pencil Club, a place where like-minded people could express their dislike of the new technology and celebrate the good old ways of writing. Looking for literary precedents to support his anticomputer stand, Henderson applauds the fact that in the very ﬁrst chapter of Walden, Henry David Thoreau disparaged the information superhighway of his day, a telegraph line connecting Maine to Texas.
We do know some of the changes Thoreau introduced. He designed a grinder that used puffs of air to separate out the ﬁnest graphite powder (Petroski 1990, 114). He then mixed this pure graphite not with wax but with clay, like Conté. Thoreau also experimented with pencil casings, though this endeavor was less successful. Most pencil makers still use a traditional twopiece wood casing. They place the extruded lead between two grooved cedar 38 ■ A Better Pencil Top of a box of John Thoreau & Co. drawing pencils.
A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron