Typewriters and the future

by | Jan 21, 2013 | future | 14 comments

Excuse the mess … this is a first draft.


  1. notagain

    Time is always pressing on us. It's interesting that you bring up food, as a lot of the best – and certainly the best presentation – takes far more time to prepare than to consume. So the preparation has to be as enjoyable a process as the consumption.
    p.s. you have the nerve to say "excuse the mess" after reading *my* posts? I have much to apologize for, by that standard.

  2. Ted

    Just as there is a Slow Food Movement, which is part of a broader Slow Movement, so indeed there is (or should be) a Slow Writing Movement – where time and care is taken in the act of communicating. This allows, as you say, the time and attention to the craft of language and ideas rather than simply pounding out short informational communiques for instant delivery without reflection.

    The typewriter is a perfect tool for such a movement. Vive' le Revolution!

  3. Anonymous

    That's a very interesting insight of which I've not thought, where you mention that digital text becomes obsolete. That's so true. I find that a digital text, whether on one's hard-drive or on the web, is so transient. Not "transient" in the sense that it is quickly deleted, but because it is quickly forgotten as it gets so easily lost among the innumerable files we store away deep in the recesses of our hard-drive (or, more recently and even more suspect, the "cloud"). The printed text, on the other hand, is something to be cherished. I have so many digital text-files, I don't even recall what I have or where they're all stored. But I know where my printed text documents are located (whether books or things I've typed myself).

    I find this is often the same where letters are concerned, though few people write letters any longer. I've reread letters I've received, but I almost never reread emails unless it's necessary for business reasons. And, while one can receive a written letter from one's fair love spritzed with perfume or accompanied by flower petals, the same sensory embellishments cannot accompany an email or text-message (though some people may opine that the racy pics exchanged via phone cameras are a preferable "sensory embellishment")….. I'm getting waaayyy off-topic, aren't I? Perhaps I was never on-topic to begin with…

  4. Bill M

    I think digital will be obsolete way before typewriters. There is still very much that can be done with a typewriter that cannot be done or done easily and quickly with a PC.

    Then most people think a typewriter is slow. Who cares? Slow is good. I find that I am more relaxed when I must take a bit of time and wind one of my old pocket watches and check it against WWV once a day, fill my fountain pen, and type on my typewriter. Then even cleaning a pen or typewriter is relaxing also. It is gaining an appreciation for what was and what still is and knowing that it will never need electricity to use.

  5. Miguel Chávez

    I can actually type faster on a good typewriter than on my laptop… the keyboard response is very different, and I think it is a lot more positive in the typewriter.

    I must be one of the very few people who still likes to do stuff as time-consuming as typing tabular sheets in a typewriter; I'm also very fond of making hard-copies of news articles I find interesting using the typer in turn.

    I would add that there's a very characteristic texture to the typewritten page that is missing in the computer-generated pages. Feeling the characters in high-relief on the back of the page is part of the experience of reading a typed document, and I like that very much.

  6. Ted

    Brothers in Arms! :D

  7. Ted

    Amen, Brother!

  8. Richard P

    My Olivetti Lexikon 80. I don't know what the typeface is called, but I have a Voss with it too.

  9. Peter

    "What do you want to say to the future?"

    I will spend the entirety of my remaining life forming an answer to that question.

  10. rn

    The typewriter as an outlet for anticipatory consciousness. Fabu! Read any Ernst Bloch lately? One thought: your last two paragraphs begin to sound a bit ominous–as if some demigod has come down to thunder 'Think well, little man, before you write. What do you want to say to the future?' Don't get me wrong. I adore the question. But I'd love it to be clear that there's no pressure here: there are no wrong answers, and trying to find what you want to say to the future is fun.
    Rob N.

  11. Unknown

    Richard this is an interesting and good article. Recently I barely had any time to care about my hobbies – unfortunately this includes typewriters – but yesterday, as a part of ITAM, I got my Consul out of the closet and typed a little on it. I had a good feeling by doing that. A relaxing one. Everything was calm, all I could hear is the typebars hitting the paper.

  12. Richard P

    Thanks for commenting, Szabolcs. I find that just a little time spent typewriting can have a beneficial effect, as you say; it gets my priorities straight and puts me back in touch with reality.


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