Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 11: The Computer as "Muse"

A 2001 New York Times article titled, "Where the PC is Mightier Than the Pen" (at http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/01/technology/where-the-pc-is-mightier-than-the-pen.html) highlighted a 23-year-old computer teacher in southern China who has lost his ability to write longhand in the Chinese language he learned as a child. But he readily "writes" the characters using a computer.

This points both to our growing dependence on computers as a helper and a destroyer. It will take more than a few decades to measure the effect computers have on creativity, literacy and freedom. However, it is up to each writer to determine whether this technology serves as a muse because of its ease, or cuts off an essential connection between brain and fingers that handwriting forges.

In the NYT's article above, Chinese traditionalists lamented the spiraling losses from a younger generation's inability to pen Chinese characters.On the other hand, consider how computers make turning words into art. For anyone who is artistically challenged, programs can turn the words in your head into a visual statement.

But as anyone who has ever sent an e-mail knows, immediate access to a computer while under the influence of strong emotions can lead to embarrassment or, at the least, provides an incentive to edit messages before you hit the send.

As with any artistic process, writers need to honestly consider whether computers help or hinder their progress. And if balance is needed, then it pays to work in every medium that helps you think and create.

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