It’s UVic’s 50th birthday this year, which got me thinking about what student life was like when Martha Reeves & the Vandellas was still considered hip music. It’s said by some that the teenage and early-20s rebellion never changes, generation to generation, but even if that is true, our generation sure has a different lifestyle than those who came before us. We have quicker access to information than our campus ancestors thanks to the Internet, smartphones and online library tools. We also possess automation that they considered to be of the realm of science fiction. Look at an iPad and tell me there isn’t something distinctly Star Trek about it.
So we’ve changed, and most would nod and smile and accept the idea that it’s for the better. I’m not so convinced, though. For all of our automation and time-saving tech, how many of us feel rushed and harried, as if we have no time at all? With the advent of technology that allows a student to write a seven-page history essay in four hours the night before their assignment is due, are we really retaining the information from our classes, or are we merely jumping through hoops? Is the grade we get on that paper really going to reflect what we’ve learned?
Therefore, in a nod to my forebears, I’ve come up with an ingenious plan for world domination … er, I mean, my studies. I’ve decided to adapt an old technology, the typewriter, to my daily requirements. This means notes from classes are typed on it after the day is out. Any journals, assignments or essays are also hammered out on the portable impact press. For those of you who don’t know what a typewriter is because you were born when I had already learned to cook breakfast, it’s a device for committing directly to paper what flows from your fingers and through a keyboard. This technology has its drawbacks, of course. Many drafts of my history essay are no doubt in my future.
At the end of the term, if I turn out to be a less distracted and more knowledge-absorbing student, then I’ll consider this to be a rousing success. If I become a basket case, at least I will have left a legacy the Martlet can use as a warning to all you would-be writers that, no matter how beautiful the tool, typewriters are pure evil.
I believe that the old guard will thoroughly trounce the new one, and that this ancient method of publishing still has a place in this world as a sacred refuge of the undistracted author. But then, that’s why you’re here — to find out. So, ironically, you’ll find this column posted as a Martlet web series, despite its being originally prepared as a carbon document. Next week? The importance of a student’s choice of tools. See you soon!
The original version of this piece was typed on a typewriter (see accompanying graphic) and then transcribed by the Martlet for web.