Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pity the Poor Thesaurus...

HALLIE: Please, indulge me a rant...

When I went to start yesterday’s blog on words, I searched bookshelves for my thesaurus but it wasn’t there. Then I remembered--awhile back, I got rid of it because I needed the shelf space more than I needed a paper version of something that’s just as complete and easier to use on the Web.

Ah, the digital age. Countless thesauruses and dictionaries and encyclopedias have been consigned to the dump. Typewriters, their keys harvested to become jewelry, molder there, too, like great tuskless elephants. Reel to reel tape recorders and VCRs and film cameras. Rotary phones--we have one in our front hall, and it’s such a pleasure to pick it up and hear “Dial 1 to hear an important message”-- and after a power outage it’s the only one in the house that still works.

Even species born in the digital age like fax machines and scanners are becoming obsolete.

Which made me think about all the other things that have gone belly up or are gasping their last breaths as the Internet offers the same thing...sometimes for free.
- Newspapers and magazines, of course
- Cookbooks. Travel books.
- Video rental stores
- Channels that you can watch just by plugging in your TV

And you know this idea that it's free? We’re now paying for...
-- Cable TV
-- Cell phones and house phones and office phones and...
-- Computers and modems and printers and...

Not to mention the constant flow of electricity that ALL of that stuff draws when I'm not even using it. Couldn't they at least make it easy to really turn the things off?

I refuse to give up my old TV. It works. My ancient green porcelain and stainless steel milkshake machine. My clock that actually ticks and needs to be wound. And of course, novels with covers and pages that I can dog ear.

Are you going with the electron flow or getting dragged kicking and screaming?


  1. AH...Hallie. I love my new tv. It has DVR, and I can watch whatever I want ween I want to, not just when it's on. I think that's an amazing advance.

    I love my Keurig one cup coffeemaker--we don't use it on weekends, but for fast coffee in the AM, it's great.

    If I had to wind a clock I would be late all the time. I just wouldn't do it.

    I dont have an ipad or iphone. But, yup, I see them looming.

    Books. I MIGHT get an ereader fo some kind. But I bet I'll still byuy books.

    Thesaurus: I--often--use a book. Not always, though...

  2. I love my Kitchenaid mixer. It's...at least 20 years old and still makes bread dough! However, I love my HDTV and the DVR that comes with the cable box. I'll never give up "paper" books but I find reading on my Kindle to be much easier on my hands and eyes. I "drank the iPhone Koolaid" after playing with my daughter's. I left it at home while on a cruise and missed it. Terribly! At the same time, I had the Kindle with 20 books loaded on it. THAT was fun!

    As I mentioned, I love the Flip Dictionary. Written by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D., the tag on the cover says: For when you know what you want to say but can't think of the word. That pretty much sums up what the book is.

    Am I bad to want jewelry made from old typewriter keys? I learned to type on a manual Underwood and when I got to Typing II in high school, we actually got to use the IBM Selectrics! Then OMG! Selectrics with autocorrect!?! I don't miss them, though I still have a Correcting Selectric stored in the garage. I don't really want to go back. I'd miss my computer and word processing. A bunch!

  3. Hallie,
    I'm with you on the not throwing out what works. Some old version of things are terrific. Classic. Simple and effective.

    I also hate what the Internet has done to the profession I loved, newspaper writing.

    However, I LOVE my IPHONE, which I now use for absolutely everything. From looking up recipes to tuning my guitar to checking on Red Sox scores while out of town (yikes, maybe I'll delete that ap).

    It keeps track of my appointments, reminds me I have to go places and do things. It's the perfect anti-alzheimers machine.

  4. The one thing that gives me hope is that I have spoken at several libraries recently and they are flourishing. And people on planes are all reading books, not Kindles.

    But I hate the planned obselescence in our modern technology. My four year old desktop is becoming unstable. I've just backed up everything to an external hard drive, just in case, but I guess it means a new computer in my future.

    And Hallie, we still have fat old TV sets, some at least 10 years old.

  5. Hallie, I don't own a TV or a hair dryer. People look at me like I'm weird. I take dinner to friend's houses to watch Treme on Sundays on HBO because I wouldn't miss that for the world. I bought 3 more hard cover books yesterday and subscribe to two newspapers just because I can.

    That said, I do all my banking on line, make dinner reservations on line and really hate voice mail (just send me an email already). It's a mixed bag and we pick and choose what we can live with and what we can't live without.

    I bought two copies of White and Strunk the other day...an updated one for my new sister in law who is from Japan and wanted something simple to look at for rules and a first edition for me so I could have it.

    Oh, and I have an old old kitchenaid, pre pastel colors (it's white). Works fine.

    Like writing. I do a long of writing longhand before it goes into the computer. Some create on the computer...

  6. I'm still craving a kitchenaid, but I don't think I'll get an old one:). Hallie, I can't believe you threw out your thesaurus! and yes, I hate what has happened with newspapers--luckily the NYTimes is still going but we'd be devastated if it bit the dust. Ditto books--what would we put on our shelves???

    Silver, I have a watch made out of old typewriter keys--it's very cute! you reminded me to get it out and wear it...

  7. So you drank the iPhone kool aid, Silver, did you? AND an e-reader! I confess I have a bracelet made of typewriter keys and I love it but it makes me sad thinking of all those keyless typewriters laying somewhere.

    Mrs. Allison you are a techno-hybrid. Hey, why not!

  8. Hallie, this is a topic I can't keep quiet about!
    I respect technology for the good it can do, but detest what it's done to our world. My first husband used to say, way back in 1962: "Soon there will be no books." And as a couple we dragged around our fair share. But for a teacher and avid reader to make that prediction -- frightening.
    This year when I sent his birthday card, I was tempted to say, "You were right!" But I just couldn't.
    Fahrenheit 451 makes me weep! We are rapidly closing in on that horror. Real, paper pages turning books must NOT disappear.

  9. I have a iphone (what did I do before it??) but no kindle, but also no actual dictionary or thesaurus (I look it up online). but i do have a copy of strunk and white, that i've read from cover to cover and encourage others to do as well. I'm talking to you online while I have two actual books laying next to me on the bed. I read books to relax - I wonder what e-reading does to the brain? Is it really the same experience as reading a real book? I find that being on my computer doesn't allow me to shut down properly, just like having the TV on keeps me on.

  10. Gosh, I've read the comments but I thought the question was literally about the thesaurus, which I use both online and in book form, depending on whether I feel the need to stand up or not. Even though I now feel slightly inadequate, remembering that line of Stephen King's, something to the effect that you shouldn't go to a thesaurus for a "better" word. But what if you can only remember the letter the word starts with?

  11. I like the mix of new and old...high and low. I've got a few old fat tvs but last year had to replace one with a sleek flat screen. Kind of cool. But I don't Tivo. There's nothing I want to see that much.
    I still love cookbooks and travel books. Looking those things up online just isn't the same for me. Same for gardening books. I have hundreds. But I love my Blackberry, HP mini and GPS.