Old Technology School

Published 6:49 am Tuesday, October 12, 2010

If I close my eyes, I can still hear the clickety-clack drumming out a melodious tune on deadline mornings.

It's the sound of manual typewriters pressed into service by the news editor, social editor and sports editor some 22 years ago in our open office.

In rhythm and varying speeds they go in both harmony and melody, a metaphor of the newspaper itself-each writer feverishly working to complete their part for the collective whole.

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We don't type news stories that way any more, for which I am thankful-there's no spell checks on manual typewriters-and the process from written word via computer to production is much smoother than the old days, but I think I shall always miss that noise.





A symphony.

I suppose I'm a bit old school, nostalgic to a fault to reminisce on something as innocuous as a sound, but I can't help missing slivers of the past. Technology has brought the world instant access, instant communication capabilities, and instant satellite tracking of your car or son or daughter or pet or even keys. Still, for all the quantum steps forward, there are some tiny slivers, snapshots of the past that are gone forever.

Once upon a time, for example, streaming was a golden beam piercing through the office window's Venetian blinds on sunny days.

And remember when a bite was what mosquitoes did to unsuspecting victims on warm evenings? (One finds mega-bites visiting Virginia's Eastern Shore.)

Remember when a picture album of cherished grandchildren on the coffee table was grandma's face book?

When birds twittered instead of humans?

Or when apples and blackberries were simply fruit, a cell was the building block of living organisms or kept the bad guys locked away, when one “friended” someone in person not on-line, a lap top was what a child sat upon, a printer was a person not a machine, viruses put people, not machines out of commission for awhile and a download was what you did after a visit to the grocery store?

And, let's not forget, the enter net-which is what a fisherman hoped the minnows down at the creek would do.

Times and terminologies change and slivers of the past, mere snapshots of simpler times, are often brushed aside like the old uses of words as obsolete. It would be rather fun sitting on a lazy bank waiting on the enter net connection.

Dropping a line with a cork, rather than waiting to get on-line.

Yes, there are modern marvels that I would miss if I could turn back the clock (high definition TV comes to mind), but there are plenty of other things that wouldn't be missed-like not getting lost relying on the GPS gadget.

Or seeing people at a ball game actually enjoying it rather than talking or texting on the phone.

Or not losing everything when the computer inexplicably crashes.

But I guess I'll just have to live with the peripheral technological nuisances of this generation.

And the loss of the typewriter tunes, too.