Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Digital Biography

It occurs to me that my entire adult life could be chronicled in terms of my march towards further computerization:

1984 -- First computer game (Zork II, Apple IIe)
1986 -- Went digital with written documents (Word Juggler, Apple IIe)
1987 -- First email account (VMS VAX system)
1988 -- Went digital with audio analysis (Macintosh Plus)
1989 -- Went digital with graphic layout (Aldus Freehand on Macintosh LC II)
1992 -- First internet email account
1992 -- Used the World Wide Web for the first time
1993 -- Went digital with research (internet newsgroups, CricketGraph, EndNote; all on Macs)
1994 -- Went digital with all writing (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, Microsoft Word; my own Apple Powerbook)
1995 -- Went digital with all finances (Intuit Quicken)
1996 -- Went digital with contact & calendar management (Microsoft Outlook; yes, crossed over into the world of PCs, and never looked back, thank you very much)
1997 -- Went digital with publicity (first SKS website, hosted on Mindspring)
2001 -- Went digital with photography (Sony Cyber-shot, Club Photo)
2002 -- Went digital with shopping (Amazon.com)
2002 -- Went digital with yard sales (eBay)
2003 -- Went digital with photo archiving (JASC PhotoAlbum)
2004 -- Went digital/virtual in business (GoToMyPC, Remote Desktop; telecommuting)
2005 -- Went digital with all music (Apple iTunes)
2005 -- Went digital with small talk (MSN Messenger, Trillian)
2005 -- Went digital with phones (VoiP)
2006 -- Went digital with most books (eBooks, Audible)
2006 -- Went digital with silly questions from five-year-old (Wikipedia)

The question is: what will come next? It's hard to imagine an aspect of my life that isn't already somehow tied to an electronic device. I suppose my physical life is still pretty isolated from it; there is nothing about my exercise, or sleep, or diet that is computerized yet. My spiritual life (meditation, prayer) is not digitized, though I hear about people who do that sort of thing.

I think the biggest transition likely to happen is most printed material becoming completely available online. Google keeps pushing for it, and the publishing companies will continue to struggle to find a business model, as the record companies have done. I don't think it will be a sudden shift, but somewhere in the next ten years I expect to be buying no more dead trees.

Entirely digital video entertainment will probably come first, though. I think we have less than five years before we have no more shiny disks.

Entirely digital money is already a reality, I suppose, since 98% of all my financial transactions now happen without a coin or bill changing hands. Still, I'm not sure that currency will go away in my lifetime. Maybe.


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