source The Joy of sales resistance
P.S. Last summer, for example, I read a newspaper article announcing, in the awestricken voice of the science journalist, "a new generation of technological inventions—most of them involving some variation on the home computer." The two inventions specifically described in the article were electronic newspapers and something called "hypertext." The benefits of the electronic newspaper apparently all have to do with convenience: "These screens will display a front page with an index. The user can tap a pen to the screen to call up a story, flip a page, turn a still photograph into a TV news scene, or even make a dinner or theatre reservation from an ad."
Hypertext "makes it possible to create all sorts of linkages and short circuits within a text." And this "is extremely useful in organizing technical material so that the reader can efficiently select which parts of a text to read." The reason for this, according to a "consultant," is that "usually you don't want to read everything— you only want to read what you don't know . " Hypertext "is reader-friendly and makes it easy to chart a path to the desired parts." Thanks also to this invention, "creative writing professors are teaching courses about how to write hypertext novels that literally go in all directions." These novels are "interactive":
In reading a hypertext novel You may follow the point of view of a chosen character, or you may chose the outcome you like best, or you may wander off into subtleties beyond anything James Joyce could have imagined. The possibilities —and the stories—may be endless. This opens up new realms of choice and creativity. In some ways it frees the reader from being merely a passive receptacle of the " author's genius (or lack of same)
Dear reader, I hope you will understand at least somewhat the disgust, the contempt, and the joy with which I have received this news.
It disgusts me because I know there is no need for such products, which will put a lot of money into the pockets of people who don't care how they earn it and will bring another downward turn in the effort of gullible people to become better and smarter by way of machinery. This is a perfect example of modern salesmanship and modern technology—yet another way to make people pay dearly for what they already have (the ability to turn the pages of a newspaper or respond to an ad; the ability to read and write, to choose what to read, and to read "actively").
I read about these things with contempt because of the nonsense and the falsehood involved. For example, no real comparison is made in this article between paper newspapers and electronic ones. The stated difference is simply that one is newer and somehow easier than the other. And what exactly is implied by the use of a machine that makes it possible to read only "what you don't know"? is this perhaps what we call "skimming"? But how do you know, without reading or at least skimming, whether you know or do not know what is in a text? And what of the pleasure of reading again what you already know? The assumption here is that reading is an ordeal, of which the less said the better. And don't we remember that television was once expected to produce a new era of general enlightenment? And now will we believe that the electronically stupefied will turn from their soap operas to "hypertext" and indulge themselves in "subtleties and complexities" beyond the powers of James Joyce? And are we to suppose that readers of, say, James Joyce have hitherto been mere passive receptacles of his genius? And haven't we known all along that the stories are endless?
My joy comes from my instantaneous knowledge that I am not going to buy either piece of equipment. When the inevitable saleswoman comes to tell me that I cannot be up-to-date, or intelligent, or creative, or handsome, or young, or eligible for the sexual favors of so fair a creature as herself unless I buy these products, dear reader, I am not going to do it. It >>> Why I am not going to buy a computer
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