Picture this: The year is 1969. Hendrix is playing in the background as Johnny B. Goode is frantically trying to finish his English paper. The engine on his souped-up '68 Chevy Impala is still smoking from his fourth trip to the library today. As he goes to wipe the pink eraser remnants off the page, he notices the growing pencil-inflicted callous on his middle finger. His Webster's is lying on the floor, spine broken from being referenced 500 times so far and his thesaurus is bound for the same condition from looking up synonyms for transition words such as "furthermore". The handwriting that was so legible at the beginning has turned into a puddle of curly lines that spill over the once-strict margin line. Revision consists of running downstairs and interrupting the apple pie baking to have mom read the final draft over. Her brief comments reflect the lack of interest and knowledge in the subject. The paper is due in his instructor's office in twelve hours, plus Johnny has to get gas.
Fast forward. The year is 1998, and J.C's Real Audio plug-in has just finished playing the newest Dave Matthews song. Momentarily distracted, he cruises over to Tower Record's home page and now owns the entire CD. After a quick check of his bank account, J.C., a.k.a. Johnny Computer, heads back to his Word document, leaving Netscape open in the bottom toolbar for future research for his paper. Scanning the paragraph he has just written, he decides he needs a synonym for "fast". Shift+F7 quickly produces a list of appropriate words, and in the blink of a speedy double click, "fast" has swiftly been replaced with "rapid". After a few formatting formalities, such as the standard 1 inch margins and double spacing, the only thing that stands in front of a completed paper is the spelling and grammar check. As he adjusts his wrist brace, J.C. contemplates the computer's problem with the grammar of his sentence. Because mom is online downstairs paying the bills, J.C. sends his paper to the University of Missouri Writing Center for their corrections. The paper is due in his instructor's office twelve hours from now, and all he has to do to forward his paper 500 miles away to Missouri. J.C. gases up his modem for the information superhighway.
The growing prevalence of computers has had profound impact on the entire
writing process; research and development, writing and revision, and finished
product. Information retrieval, formatting, editing, presentation, and distribution
have all been automated. While many facets of writing have been improved
to aid writers, it can be argued that not everything needed to be changed,
but merely adapted. This project addresses the debate on the level of dependence
on the personal computer. As the number of computer users rapidly increases,
the writing process has to come to terms with the technological changes
that accompany it. Neither scenarios above is "better" than the
other; Johnny B. Goode needs a computer, while J.C. needs to hold on to
some of the old methods of writing. Together, the future of writing will
fall somewhere in between these extremes, and there will be a happy medium
between Johnny and J.C.
Far out, cyberdude.
Bibliography and Works Consulted