« Look Who Is Training On Grass! | Main | True Blood Returns »

Technology And Schoolwork

I spent much of the last twenty-four hours working on a paper--what I call a "critical essay" when I teach fifth form English--on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One. The essay, prepared for the course I am currently taking at Yale, ended up being roughly eight pages long. As it's been awhile since I've written papers like this--and I am generating at least two a week, mostly shorter, throughout the five-week term--I have been getting some writing muscles that have gone flabby back into shape. What has really struck me is the various ways technology has made this process so much easier since my own undergraduate days.

The ease with which I can access information via the Internet means I have a lot more resources at my disposal in a unimaginably convenient manner. Kids now take this for granted, of course. (Damn, that makes me sound like a cranky old man!) When I was in college, I used to check out a stack of books and bring them back to my room, which is where I preferred to write. Today when I was trying to find a line from a medieval religious pageant, I simply searched online and found what I was looking for in seconds; it was in an out-of-print edition that Google Books had posted, so all I had to do was select the text and copy and paste it.

In terms of the actual writing, I was ahead of the curve starting in the first term of my freshman year at Williams, since I was a relatively early adopter of word processing technology. I wrote my first several papers on the manual typewriter that I had brought with me to school, and then discovered a basement room in one of the language buildings where a small number of in-the-know students gathered to take advantage of word processing on a batch of Commodore computers; if you were inside when the building was locked, you could stay there all night to work. I shifted to the IBM PC about a year later, and then the following year to the newly released Apple Macintosh machine, which I instantly knew was created for someone like me. Anyway the actual work of composing and revising on screen isn't all that different now than it was then. The one element which I have incorporated into my writing process recently is voice recognition software, which allows me to dictate ideas rather quickly, inputting a lot of text fairly easily. Of course I still need to go back over all of it thoroughly to edit and reshape the prose. But when I was in high school and college, I only could have dreamed of speaking and seeing my words appear on a computer screen.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 17, 2009 5:05 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Look Who Is Training On Grass!.

The next post in this blog is True Blood Returns.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.