Friday, December 19, 2003

Pen and paper, PDA and text messaging

How does technology really change longstanding ways of working? I am by no means the first person to ask this question, but it came back to me when I received - on paper by the US postal service - a copy of a speech delivered - in person, from behind a lectern I'm sure - a speech on the digital humanities.

Now, the sender could have emailed me the paper, or directed me to the URL link for the homepage of the speech's author.

Instead, I received a document that I could stick in my briefcase and read in comfort (well, relative to staring at a computer screen) on the train home.

As I read it, I though how I should respond to the sender. In a handwritten letter, mailed to him in New York. After I had time to reflect on it. Instead of jotting a quick email.

But now I have to figure out what to do with the document. I can't file it easily, as I don't have it electronically. As I am no longer an official academic, I long ago lost my file boxes of random artifacts, ideas, and interesting sources (though I still have a large pile of newspaper clippings on the floor in my office).

The immediate power of the piece - making me think about how, in ways big and small - technology has changed how I work, how I think, how I find and store information, how I interact with colleagues, introduce myself to people, and distribute my own writing. Its worth thinking about for all us.

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