15.603 pencil and paper

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Thu Apr 25 2002 - 01:52:13 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 603.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 06:47:46 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: pencil and paper

    >*pencil and paper* n. An archaic information storage and transmission
    >device that works by depositing smears of graphite on bleached wood pulp.
    >More recent developments in paper-based technology include improved
    >'write-once' update devices which use tiny rolling heads similar to mouse
    >balls to deposit colored pigment. All these devices require an operator
    >skilled at so-called 'handwriting' technique.....
    The New Hacker's Dictionary, 3rd edn., comp. Eric S Raymond (MIT Press,
    1999), s.v.

    Explaining jokes is invidious, but perhaps untangling their implications is
    excusable? There are two interesting ones in the above: (1) that a new
    technology puts older ones into sharp relief, illuminating their
    mechanisms, as the computer has done for the printed book; (2) that
    historiographically seeing a former technology as a crude attempt to be a
    current one is dead wrong (hence the joke). I am reminded of the fellow who
    converted all (or so he claimed) allusions and references in Eliot's
    Wasteland to hypertext links.



    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer,
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London,
    Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.,
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/,
    willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

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