Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Which I Wonder About Blogger's Limits

In some ways, I'm technologically backward. I kind of miss the rotary dial telephone, and I really, really miss the telephone booth. (Private calls, people. Don't blab your business in front of me, please.)

As an aside, has an amusing piece on Gadget Graveyard: 10 Technologies About to Go Extinct. Landline phones, floppy disks, wristwatches (!), VCRs, pagers, film cameras, typewriters, the Walkman and its successors, dial-up Internet access, and DVDs comprise the list. Some I won't miss at all, but others, such as the typewriter, have a spot in my heart. I knew its time had come and gone when I could no longer get cartridges for my Smith-Corona, even on eBay. Now it's a very heavy paperweight.

I was late to the blog party, and I was late to Twit. Tweet. Whatever. Still, better late than never, to coin a phrase, and here I am. I noticed that the "you have used x% of your quota" line shows up when I add pictures, and x seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. More recently, I added yet another blog to my "following" list (most, but not all, of which are also listed on the blogroll; I'm busy, okay?) - a blog of a friend of a friend, if you will, someone I don't know personally, which strikes me as getting a little far afield, but it is amusing to read, and God knows I need amusement, so it went in. But that "following" list is getting awfully long, and, who knows, perhaps Blogger has a limit on those as well.

All of this makes me a little nostalgic for the lousy old days of, say, MS-DOS 2.1, with its config.sys file and the sequence of lines in there: FILES = 20, say, and device drivers, and batch files. It's not as though I knew what any of those things really did behind the scenes, but I knew what a device driver did, I knew which device was being driven, and I knew the consequence of removing that line from the file. I had some level of control over events that is almost entirely gone now. I think of that a lot when I'm spending yet another hour trying to restore some component of my home network that has gone off line inexplicably yet again.

Of course, all these technological advances improve our lives in countless ways. Even if they didn't, there is no going back. Still, this yearning for a time when an individual could understand and control the technology around her is, of course, at the heart of the Steampunk movement, thereby finally bringing this Journal entry around to something even tangentially On Topic. It's as though I've been a closet Steampunk for years before I ever heard the term. Even so, I haven't missed the irony of using the cutting-edge of 21st century technology to pine for some idealized version of the 19th century. It's just that, in an age of postmodern literature, that makes it all the more humorous.

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