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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Another Kind of Manifesto

     Confession: I use a laptop, and I use it a lot. A Dell Latitude D410, it doesn't have a widescreen, and the OS is still Windows XP. I bought it last year from a tech resale shop called PC Guru, not too far from where I live. It's one of the earliest "netbooks" though it isn't actually one.
     I know that I'm a Luddite at heart, but this is the 21st century; nobody has got time for a small time scribbler and his idiosyncrasies. A deadline in 2013 does not adjust for inflation. No one wants to set typeface for a hard copy, especially in the age of online content, digital magazines, and phones like this.
     So I still submit using digital means.
     Another confession: I love my Dell laptop.
     It's compact. It boots up when I need it to. Though its shell is ridiculously bland, that utilitarian aesthetic makes me feel safe knowing that this single core processor is here to work.
     Most important, I think, is its keyboard: a subtly tactile interface. Reading up on, and testing modern laptops, it is blatantly apparent that Apple, HP, Toshiba, Sony, and all the rest are willing to sacrifice keyboard comfort in the name of thin and light.
     When did we become such wimps that any device weighing over four pounds isn't considered portable. Our parents used portable typewriters anywhere from ten to forty pounds. I've used them both, carrying them all over in the name of art.
     My Dell isn't ten pounds or even close. It rings in around four, without an optic drive built in, which allows for this little machine to have a keyboard that doesn't suck. Sure, it has its draw backs, but--I cannot stress this enough--the keys press down when you press down on them! A notebook or ultrabook today yields a paper thin keyboard, practically non-responsive--whether audibly or physically--to human touch.
     They have attempted to compensate. Sony and Apple have the best multi-touch pads. Acer and Toshiba--and most others now--have multi-touch screens.
     But none of that makes up for the keyboards. Not to me. Not all the cores, and processing power in the world can make up skimping the most regularly engage part of the computer.
     So I guess the long short of this is another kind of manifesto: Give writers a writer's laptop; that takes advantage of shrinking technology to make room for a writer's keyboard; one reinforced and rigid so it doesn't bend; with keys that are felt under the fingers; that respond to our touch and to our ears; that don't leave us fumbling for the backspace, instead hitting the backslash, or trying to shift and instead returning eleven lines before noticing.
     So I want a digital typewriter
     I want a machine made for writing first and all the rest second.
     That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table