Everchanging Technology

Everchanging Technology
While first considering how to go about completing this assignment, I tried to keep in mind the one constant characteristic of technology: it is always changing. Technology seems to change faster than most can keep pace with. Even simple tasks like writing letters has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Twenty years ago, the postal system was the most common way for people to communicate through writing. Now people use e-mail, allowing them to communicate with anyone in the world at the click of a mouse. Other activities associated with writing have also made a shift to computers, condemning devices like the typewriter and the pencil to relative obscurity.
The fact that technology is always changing and that things that were once thought of as conveniences can quickly become outdated became my inspiration for this assignment. One can think of past technologies like the typewriter as being left behind to wither and die, which is why I chose to use a watermelon as my canvas to write on. The watermelon perfectly represents the ?life span? of technology.

When you buy a watermelon, as with any perishable item, you know that it has a limited shelf life before it rots and becomes unusable. Technology can be thought of in the same way, even though the process takes a longer period of time. Take the CD for example. In the 1980s, compact disks became preferable to vinyl records by most consumers because of better sound quality and overall convenience. Now that mp3 technology is beginning to expand, it seems that CDs might soon become obsolete.

My goal for the assignment was to stay as close to using all ?natural? materials as possible and although I got the watermelon from a grocery store, I think that I accomplished that objective. Besides the watermelon the only other object I used was a sharp rock that I found outside my apartment. I used the rock to carve ?all technology will rot someday? into the melon. I feel that statement illustrates the point that I am trying to make about the relationship between writing and technology. One of the criteria for this assignment was the permanence of what we created. But because technology does not seem to have any permanence itself (especially when applied to writing technology), I decided to focus more on the use of natural materials and the creative aspect of the project.

The completion of the project reinforced my belief that writing technology, like all technology, has a life span. Even the high-end computer technology we have today that enables people to write, edit and publish almost anything from almost anywhere, will someday be replaced by faster, higher quality gadgets. Another aspect of the relationship between writing and technology that the project exposed me to is best expressed by Dennis Baron?s statement about why writing was invented. In his essay called ?From Pencils to Pixels? Dennis Baron said, ?Writing itself begins not as speech transcription but as a relatively restricted and obscure record-keeping shorthand,? (40) I agree with Baron?s statement because I believe that writing came before any real form of developed speech.

While I was carving the letters into my watermelon, I began to think of all the different surfaces that people must have used to write on before paper was invented. I think that cavemen, for example, used to write with figures instead of words on the walls of their caves because they lacked a developed form of speech. Probably not every figure on any given cave wall has substantial meaning. But I think that cavemen must have used them to record some important life events like the death of a loved one or a young man?s first kill during a hunt. People have always recorded important events in their lives, whether it is on a personal or public level. If it is true that cavemen did the same, then some of those figures are actual written documentation of history.

As stated before, my idea for this assignment evolved from the idea that writing technology has a life span. In any technology?s infancy, there are usually inadequacies that need to be improved in later models before it can take hold in a person?s everyday life. In Mark Twain?s essay, ?The First Writing Machine?, he describes his first experiences with the typewriter, which in 1874, was a new technology. ?That early machine was full of caprices, full of defects-devilish ones. It had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues,? Twain said (502). He then describes how he gave the machine away only to have it returned to him repeatedly, until he finally lost track of it. Even though Twain?s first encounter with the typewriter occurred over one hundred years ago, the same difficulties that he encountered can still be seen today when any new technology is introduced. Most people are apprehensive to purchase it at first for financial or personal reasons (they might be uncomfortable with it).

Once a new technology takes hold in society, as with the computer, it becomes cheaper and widely accepted. Even the typewriter, a machine that Twain described as being ?full of defects? eventually improved and became commonplace in homes across the world. ?At the beginning of the interval a type-machine was a curiosity. The person who owned one was a curiosity, too,? Twain said. ?Now it is the other way about: the person who DOESN?T own one is a curiosity,? (501).

Eventually, the improvements made on any product coupled with technological advances, only leads to its demise. Just as the pencil gave way to the typewriter, one day the computer as we know it will be obsolete. It is a concept that is familiar to everyone: all things must pass. It is as true with written technology as it is with the watermelon.

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