Sunday, December 2, 2007

What's New?

I keep showing up at work, checking out the "New Arrivals" fiction table, and finding the same old stuff. Nothing new! I feel deeply hungry and itchy for something good, but I can't find it. You'd think right before the holidays *everything* would be coming out, but apparently not.

Nevertheless, I can't shake this feeling that good stuff is just over the horizon.

JRL and I were chatting last night about the Kindle. Ugh. Just ugh, and whatever. I admit to being a bit of a Luddite, but usually I can see the appeal of whatever technology I'm turning up my nose at. And I've pretty much caved on everything: JRL and I even have a dishwasher now. Haha! Yeah, we have iPods too. But the e-book just fills me with a feeling of vague disgust -- the feeling of having eaten too much at a holiday meal and then having a giant piece of pie shoved in front of you. I mean, who needs it? That feeling.

And I remember that I had the same feeling about new voting machines. We still, miraculously, for now, have the lever-style voting machines in New York. They're about as complicated as those little hand-held counters my mom took to the grocery store back in the '70's. Every time someone votes, they turn a little dial with the lever. At the end of the night, a bunch of octogenarians check the numbers on the dials and call the board of elections. What could be simpler? Room for error? Hell yeah! But since the octogenarians are all half Democrat, half Republican, it evens out.

Why mess with simple perfection???

Anyway, I had the idea, ruminating over the Kindle, that new technology has reached a point where it's not all that interesting and useful anymore. Maybe we've reached a kind of Peak Technology -- we'll continue getting Cool New Stuff, but it'll be progressively less appealing. (Exception: medical technology.) Could we be reaching a Post-Technological age? Could it be that soon people will begin rejecting new gadgets and embracing a slower, hands-on life? I certainly don't want to live in a gray pod surrounded by electronic devices, and if the internet has taught me anything, it's that every feeling I have is shared by millions.


Josh Russell said...

Two things come to mind: 1) "The internet is the best thing to happen to manual typewriters" (a fellow Royal user, when in 2000 I complained it was nearly impossible to find ribbons; online, it turns out, I have hundreds of ribbon sources). 2) The sudden popularity of book arts. Here in Atlanta, there are several places to take workshops, rent press time, etc. Screw the Kindle: movable type and sewn bindings are the future.

Anonymous said...

Hey JR, welcome to the tent!

expeditus said...

I'm no Luddite; I love my iPod. But I also love my banjo and and my back yard and my many, many shelves of books. The book -- printed and bound in real paper, without the need for anything else -- is almost the perfect object.

Speaking of electoral gadgets, we recently had an election in Australia. It was done, as it always is, with little stubby pencils and pieces of paper. You go to a booth and write numbers in boxes. It's easy, it's quick, and it works every time. Across the country, thousands of scrutineers from all parties supervise the counting, and without much bother a new government is elected by nine o'clock that night.