Bolter by Madeleine Czekalski

“The writer always needs a surface on which to make his or her marks and a tool with which to make them, and these materials become part of the contemporary definition of writing.” Bolter, J.D. (2001)

Throughout his essay’s, Bolter goes through the history of writing technologies. Starting with papyrus, continuing on to the printing press, and eventually ending up at our modern day technologies. You can tell these essays are dated because we have advanced farther than just a computer, which is completely stationary, now we have moved to tablets and smart phones that can be taken anywhere. Some people may be skeptical when I say it is possible to write a bestselling novel on a smart phone. If we compare technologies, like Bolter did, it is no different than saying J.K Rowling wrote parts, if not most, of her first Harry Potter series book on napkins in a coffee shop. Napkins are just a different form of using paper and pen, as is a smart phone to a computer. I do not think it matters what tools you are using to express yourself through words. Some people may find it easier to use paper and pen because Facebook, or other things on the computer distract them. Other people might enjoy the freedom and creativity that comes with writing on a computer. Making a word document, writing a blog, updating your status, or tweeting your favorite quote are todays definition of writing.

“The World Wide Web [Internet], virtual reality, or computers are said to revolutionize our society, our economy, and even the way we think.” Bolter, J.D. (2001)

A very intuitive and forward thinking observation made by Bolter in this essay. In 2001 the Internet was still a very new technology, and being that is was only about 8 years prior that the Internet was first invented there was still a ton on unexplored ideas and territory. I would love to read Bolter’s thoughts on the quote above, about today’s far more advanced technological world. Fast-forward fourteen years from when this essay was written and we have Facebook, blogging, constant emails, constant texting, online ordering, and endless websites where thoughts and opinions are shared. It runs our lives, and there is really no way to escape it in today’s world. Our society is being affected by the lack of face-to-face interaction, and now with texting, voice-to-voice interaction. The economy is hugely dependent on the Internet, and computers. Banking is done mostly on computers now, they actually prefer you switch to “paperless” statements. You can also see how the economy is affected by looking at online shopping. Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world. Amazon is in the process of developing a delivery drone, where products that are ordered will be delivered to your doorstep within hours. This leads me to Bolter’s last point in the above statement, “revolutionize…the way we think.” Things like amazon delivery drones, and being able to share photos of your lunch on Instagram leads us to have a mindset of this need for instant gratification. Young people today, including myself, no longer have the patience our parents had, and definitely not our grandparents. We expect instant results, instant service, and instant satisfaction.

Overall I think Bolter’s ideas of how computers and “The World Wide Web” are changing the way we write are insightful, not only for the time the article was written, but also for how much technology has changed since then. These technologies will continue to grow and change the way written word is expressed and shared.

Click here to read Bolter’s essay’s

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