Thursday, March 25, 2010
Foil on the Rabbit's Ears
By Kelli Stanley
Has technology made my life as a writer easier?
Yes and no ...
Research-wise, the internet's a godsend. OK, hold up your hand if you've ever used a card catalog! I loved the things, but being able to access bibliographic information in a twinkle, plus resources like digitized photos from the San Francisco Public Library History Center and Google Maps and moonrise time for May 25, 1940 and ... well, everything--it's miraculous. I mean, I remember the days when my father used a slide rule, when UHF TV was a big deal (round antenna, anybody?) and one of my high school graduation presents was a nice new Sears electric typewriter.
(Our basement collects typewriters. Every time I venture downstairs, I find another one. I think we're breeding them.)
Social networks are a wonderful thing, too. You can meet fabulous people, stay in touch with old friends , chat, actually have more interaction virtually than you will in a whole day at the office. You can buy virtually anything or drool over a collection of something (flashlights?) belonging to someone else (a handy thing for research), learn about your family's history and find long-lost relatives. Even look for whomever you had a crush on in high school. It's all there, all the time.
And that's the downside ... as it is in any frontier, the internet is a dangerous place. You have to be very, very careful, and any figure who is even infinitesimally in the public eye (which would be most writers), that means treading a path between getting out and about to let people know about you and your book, but also building up barricades to protect yourself physically, emotionally and psychologically from those who would do you damage. And that kind of finesse takes time and energy, and we all know how short those two items are on anybody's list of supplies.
I think technology has made life both easier and harder for writers, thus achieving a kind of post-modern, 21st century equilibrium. 'Cause y'see, technology is always cool ... but no matter how cool it is, we're still dealing with the human beings who use it, for good or for not so good. The good generally outweighs the not-so-good, in this, as in everything else.
It all comes back to people, dahlinks. And like Doc on Star Trek, I'm comforted by the thought. :)