A New Computer (2)

This morning I finished the transfer and update and backup of files, erased all my data from Lubertson and turned him in to the College of Liberal Arts. Most likely he’ll be sent to China for recycling of parts. Now I sit in my armchair comfortably typing in front of an extremely bright glass covered screen with a good deal higher resolution than Lubertson’s. There’s no power cord to worry about, no throbbing furnace in my lap, no loudly whirring hard drive, no long waits between operations or need to shut down applications to move from one to another, no need for an external hard drive except for backup. My pose is a lot like that on the ubiquitous billboards for ipads in Los Angeles: relaxed, at leisure. This is all extremely nice: a huge upgrade in comfort and convenience in using the instrument I spend most of my waking hours with.

But what’s more amazing is the fact that this machine, nine years newer than Lubertson, has no functions, cant do anything, that he couldn’t do, simply does it all better. If one compares technological progress in the most recent interval to the progress of the previous nine years, 1992-2001, the slowing of innovation is what’s striking. Netscape was founded that year—the beginning of the world wide web. In 1992 Doug and I created the Multimedia Blake Hypercard stacks that within two more years were rendered obsolete by html. 1998 marked the advent of the Powerbook G3 laptop, allowing for portable computing. I carried the machine everywhere—to England for the Shakespeare conferences, to Lund, to Ketchum. Digital cameras and iphoto and itunes came online at the end of that span, in 2001, just before I got the Titanium. By then I had all my course materials generated in Dreamweaver, was working paperless and was taking the computer to every class and projecting onto the screen most of the time, for better and for worse.

The technological change of the preceding nine years was even more transformative. In 1983, computers were only for geeks. My high technology was a selectric IBM typewriter. We got the first Mac 512 in 1984, when Jan started law school. The power it conferred to delete, replace, find, cut, paste, outline, and save was as magical as the ability to flap my arms and fly in dreams. I still have it in the garage.

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