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How many times in an average day does one think about how their shoes were made, and how the invention has evolved over the years? A person could never know the full extent of it until they tried to make a pair with only the simplest of materials to use. It is so easy to say that society does not know what they have until it is gone. For this project every tool that I have ever used for writing was taken away, and it left me more than a little frustrated. It is so hard to think about going through a day without a pen, pencil, or marker to use at will. These things have become as standard as the shoes we wear on our feet. Society knows why it has them, but they do not know to what extent until they are taken away or simplified beyond recognition.
There is so much thought that has to go into making something to write with. Ideas can become so complex and intricate. Most of the ideas that I came up with were just too much in the sense that I was making it harder than it needed to be. Being that I am an impatient person, I was looking for something that I could do pretty quickly. I started to look at what was available to me, and I realized that hey I live in Michigan; there are a lot of rocks around. I did not want to lug a bunch of huge, heavy things around, and so I focused on the smaller pebbles and stones instead. I found a sandy area close to where I found the rocks, and shaped small piles of them into letters.
This idea was a decent one by my standards, and it was legible when it was completed. I formed the word ‘rock’ with the stones. Toward the end I did get lazy though and used twigs I found for the last letter. Upon finishing, I realized the final outcome would last for a while, but it is not transportable. This could be a problem in a more realistic setting. I can not imagine taking notes in class with stones and having to leave it there. This would make studying nearly impossible. After contemplating this for a while I came up with a plan of attack.
Many ideas that have come about in the technology of writing have built on other ideas (Baron, Dennis, 36).
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Another idea that I had was to make certain colored stones match certain words or letters of the alphabet. This way the writing part could be done faster, but would have to be translated at another time if one was not used to using the system. In doing that, things could also be standardized, and one would not have to worry about not being able to read something because it was not legible. When making the piles, there is a sense of individuality. No one is going to make their letters look the same. This could create some problems when other people are trying to read it. This happens today with our handwriting. Using typed text allows people to read things easier and standardizes everything. In earlier times handwriting was used where typing is used now. In today’s society, "Handwriting is no longer taken as a necessary alternative to print but rather a begrudged substitute. Many of us resort to handwriting only when we have to," (Baron, Naomi, 60).
Handwriting can be looked at as a representation of a person. Everyone has a different style to the look of their writing. Like fingerprints, no two pieces of handwriting can look exactly the same. Early on, handwriting was looked at as an art, and eventually looked at as a science (Baron, Naomi, 58). Having piles of stones can either be looked at as piles of stones or as something more useful or artistic. Not many people think about what their writing looks like in comparison to art; it is just something that people do to remember things, give messages, and a variety of other reasons. With the computer and typed text came the sense of standardization of literature. Every letter could be clear and legible. People did not have to worry about being able to make out what was being written.
No matter what technology I decided to create or how useable I could make it, some people would still not use it. They would not understand it, not want to try something new because their old way worked fine, or have another reason for not wanting it. Society has a fear of what is new (Baron, Dennis, 37). The computer is an excellent example of this. Though computers do a great many things, there are still problems with them. They break just like any other mechanical devise can. Before the computer though, there were typewriters. Typing was an extremely new idea then, and people were cautious to learn about it (Twain, 501). With the problems of new technology comes the people whom are willing to work with it to make it better and then there are the ones that do not want anything to do with it. While doing my technology project, I faced problems with some of my ideas and gave up on them entirely, but I found something that worked for me and that I could work on.
Technologies can also create problems with making life easier for people. Teachers especially have problems allowing their students to use these things because they feel that it could take away from their learning. "Ten years ago, math teachers worried that if students were allowed to use calculators, they wouldn’t learn their arithmetic tables," (Baron, Dennis, 50). This is not a new problem though. One of the biggest technological advances in pencils was the eraser, but teachers had a problem with this. They thought that students would do better work the first time if they were not given the option to revise (Baron, Dennis, 50). Things definitely change though. Now, teachers encourage revision and perfection among their students.
Technology will never stop. There will always be something new, better, and faster coming out. Doing this project I have realized how hard it is to have them taken away though once they have been introduced and used. Some people could argue that they could live without computers, but I think that until they actually try it, they will not realize how much their life is affected by the device. Society becomes so used to a technology that they think of it as a natural way to do something versus thinking of it as a technology. This idea will be with us forever.
Baron, Dennis. "From Pencils to Pixels." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 2003. 35-53.
Baron, Naomi. "The Art and Science of Handwriting." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 2003. 54-61.
Twain, Mark. "The First Writing Machines." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 2003. 500-503.