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Typewriters: hot or hip?

by | Oct 11, 2015 | hipsters, Portland | 3 comments

Here’s a blazing logo for yesterday’s Typewriter Jam in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by the Independent Publishing Resource Center (a haven for zines and more) and featuring Janine Vangool with her gorgeous new collection of typewriter ephemera over the decades, The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. From all accounts, the Jam was a well-attended, lively, and glorious event.

(From IPRC’s Instagram feed: https://instagram.com/iprc_pdx/)
Meanwhile, typewriters continue to be perceived as cool and rebellious. Peter Weil shared an example with me: images of typewriters on skateboards, associated with the names of famous skateboarders.

What does all this mean?
That’s the question I’ve tried to answer in my book. It took nearly 400 pages of text and images … and I still think there’s a lot more to say. 
Inasmuch as mainstream culture takes notice of the trend at all, it’s in terms of the “hipster with a typewriter” meme that has attracted mockery and irritation around the world. I think there are several sources of those negative reactions: The false assumption that there is no reason to use a typewriter today other than as a fad or to get attention; the typical dynamic of resentment directed at any subculture that threatens to set new fashion trends; and the unfortunate fact that some of us have used loud typewriters in places where they disturb the public. (Don’t type on a quiet train, folks, or in a library or an airplane—as I once did, to my fellow passengers’ annoyance and my chagrin.)
Anyway, it’s clear that the “hipster” label, shapeless though it is, is far too narrow to embrace all typists in 2015: we are young and old, cool and uncool, urban and rural, international, multi-ethnic, diverse in every way— but united in our sincere appreciation for these machines and in our choice, when we use them, to do something that transcends the digital world. That’s why I refer to an insurgency against the Paradigm. And that revolutionary spirit is only going to get hotter.

3 Comments

  1. Ted

    Well said! Can't wait for the tome! :D

    Reply
  2. Scott K

    I'm trying to figure it out too, at the moment. Right now the market seems to have significantly cooled for typewriters online. Although the christmas market is usually the one to be looking at.

    Reply
  3. Bill M

    Type on!

    Only problem I see with the popularity is the extreme inflation of prices.

    Reply

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