Friday, January 06, 2006

Weekend Wonderings -- Coming Full Circle

Not even a week ago, Lorem was Revisiting Life Before E-Mail. Then, a few days later, I read a post about Communication Then and Now, wherein HermeneuticLand101 shared a comment from a friend: She made a point of telling me how important letters are and how much she was hoping the art of letter writing would never be lost. In my response to her post, I commented:
I think we're definitely gonna lose a lot. As it stands, a lot of the personal touch and expression that goes into one's handwriting is missing.

Maybe that's why I'm no good with e-mail. Awww, heck, I'm no good with snail mail, either. But I don't know .... maybe that there's more investment in a handwritten note?

Regardless, I'm not shutting down my blog anytime soon! I think with the frequency of blog posts, it allows more personality to shine through. Plus, the people are just too dang cool!
I'm curious, though, how things will evolve. A couple years ago, I was at my sister's house, and my 12-year-old nephew was playing with her old manual typewriter. "This is so cool. You can take it wherever you want in the house without having to plug it in, and you don't have to wait for it to print!"

SacredSpace, run by the Irish Jesuits, is a very popular online prayer space. Last year (and again this year), they also published a book with one of the readings for the day along with some reflection questions. What cracked me up was the line on the back cover of the book: Now people without a computer can prayer and reflect with SacredSpace anytime, anyplace, in just ten minutes a day.

Before I entered the monastery, I was watching TV in my apartment, when the commercial for the Saran Wrap bowl covers came on. You know, those things that look like the shower caps from the hotel? All of the sudden, my roommate burst out laughing at these "brand new designs" .... which happened to be identical to what Saran Wrap was when she was growing up -- before they developed the rolls of film.

In my Christmas stocking from my parents, I got some Wite-Out correction tape. Now, correct me if I'm wrong {grin}, but wasn't it originally tape? And then they got all fancy with this liquid stuff you could just brush on?

The communities formed around these various blogs almost remind me of the ol' time town hall, or barber shop, or wherever else. Folks coming together to just talk about nothing in particular, although sometimes there's a more specific time and agenda. Take, for example, the RevGals Friday Five. Monday Night Thoughtball with HeyJules. Overread and his Lyric Quizzes. And Wednesday just wouldn't be Wednesday without PhantomScribbler, her commenting pixie party, and their Wednesday Whines (complete with prizes!). People make connections and have blogger meet-ups -- heck, I remember at one point that some people were concerned because BrightStar didn't appear to have a new post for a while, and great relief to discover that it was just a glitch in Bloglines.

It's something I wonder about, though, this whole question of written communication. This is all supposed to be paperless, and yet we have to print out hard copies of everything so we can take it with us. Hard drives crash and viruses (or is it virii?) attack, so we have to be sure we have a backup copy -- or two or three. Spam so fills our inboxes that we miss a real message in the mess. But we can't rely too much on the spam filters, becuase then we'll have real messages misidentified and disappearing. Does it really save us anything? Does the ability to dash off a quick e-mail and have it instanteously recieved really benefit us when it simply means that the moment-of-passion buffer zone is completely eliminated?

There's no tone of voice online. Sideways punctuation can only go so far. Misunderstandings can get way out of control without the immediate ability to see the confusion in your listener's face, to hear it in their response. But that's where I think the joy of the blogs come in. With a blog, there's more than enough substance there to make up for the tone of voice. You read a few posts, you begin to get a sense of the personality of the blogger. Susan Rose points out how blogging has actually improved her writing; I think it'll do wonders to counteract all the garbage that IMs and text messaging have done to grammar.

I personally don't e-mail much. Part cuz I'm a slacker procrastinator with little to no follow-through abilities, but part, too, because ... well, I don't know. For one thing, it's too easy to lose track of an personal email that needs responding to when it gets mixed in with all the other stuff. And there's not the sense of the person. My roommate from college and I would do letters through the summer, and it was a blast -- seeing what she'd decide to write the letter on this time, covering the envelope with jokes and quotes, writing the entire text of the letter in a spiral. You can't do any of that online.

Not that I'm much better with snail-mail, but .... I'd rather improve in that department than online. There's something a lot more personal about a letter. Something about taking the time to write -- which, unlike e-mail (unless you're BlackBerrily enhanced) you can do anywhere. You can't doodle on an e-mail. And e-mails don't give me something to get excited about during the monastic-post-lunchtime-rush to the mailroom.

So .... I guess there are kinda two questions here, seeing as how I got myself sorta off-track:
Thoughts on Reinventing the Antiques
Letter-Writing vs. Letter-Typing


Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

"Everything that could possibly be invented, has already been invented." - Attributed to the head of the US Patent Office, late 19th century (date disputed)

Back in 1999 or so I read an article in the NYT about how to do a time capsule. You can't put CDs in there, because it will break down in ten years of rough conditions. You can't put tapes in there, either. And records? Ditto. But it's still best to go analog, creating a metal mold for the record, which discoverers can use to make a new copy of an old record.

Now, back to this week. The miners. Did they phone? Email? Fax? No. They WROTE their goodbyes.

As long as paper is cheaper, lighter, portable and requires no batteries, it's not going away. Computers may be here to stay, but I think paper is going to stick around even longer. (After all, do you think drug dealers will ever take plastic?)

I can write volumes (oops, there's another analog word!) about this, but that's what's off the top of my head at the moment. Now I'm off to the bookstore. Really.

1/06/2006 6:56 PM  
Anonymous jeana said...

My brother works with a group called Organization for the Future of the Book, to discuss just such questions. Last I talked to him, he didn't think real books or real writing [on paper] would ever completely disappear, though some other ways of reading and writing will appear.

1/06/2006 7:40 PM  
Blogger Keturah said...

Letter writing will never go away . . . at least not in my lifetime. I must say, I love emailing. I find that I can get my thoughts out faster when I'm typing. It's a wonderful cross between a phone call and a letter. Like a phone call because it's instantaneous, but like a letter because I can really think about what I'm going to say before I say it.

However, when I really want to say something heart-felt, I write it in a card. I think that the invention of email has just made cards and letters more precious. When you receive a letter (when I receive a letter) from someone, I know it's truly important and/or special. To take the time to write and the money to send a piece of snail-mail means that what needed to be said was very important - that you were very important.

I love getting email, but I am ecstatic to get a letter in the mail. I can't imagine that precious bit of attention every truly dissappearing.

1/09/2006 6:21 PM  
Blogger seeking_something said...

You got it, Keturah. If it's heartfelt, it's gotta be in handwriting. I am learning the art of apologizing; and it definitely requires handwriting at some point.

1/09/2006 7:50 PM  

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