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A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution


A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution Cover

ISBN13: 9780195388442
ISBN10: 0195388445
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Computers, now the writer's tool of choice, are still blamed by skeptics for a variety of ills, from speeding writing up to the point of recklessness, to complicating or trivializing the writing process, to destroying the English language itself.

A Better Pencil puts our complex, still-evolving hate-love relationship with computers and the internet into perspective, describing how the digital revolution influences our reading and writing practices, and how the latest technologies differ from what came before. The book explores our use of computers as writing tools in light of the history of communication technology, a history of how we love, fear, and actually use our writing technologies--not just computers, but also typewriters, pencils, and clay tablets. Dennis Baron shows that virtually all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted at first with anxiety and outrage: the printing press disrupted the "almost spiritual connection" between the writer and the page; the typewriter was "impersonal and noisy" and would "destroy the art of handwriting." Both pencils and computers were created for tasks that had nothing to do with writing. Pencils, crafted by woodworkers for marking up their boards, were quickly repurposed by writers and artists. The computer crunched numbers, not words, until writers saw it as the next writing machine. Baron also explores the new genres that the computer has launched: email, the instant message, the web page, the blog, social-networking pages like MySpace and Facebook, and communally-generated texts like Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary, not to mention YouTube.

Here then is a fascinating history of our tangled dealings with a wide range of writing instruments, from ancient papyrus to the modern laptop. With dozens of illustrations and many colorful anecdotes, the book will enthrall anyone interested in language, literacy, or writing.

About the Author

Dennis Baron is Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Table of Contents

Preface: Technologies of the Word


1. TeknoFear

2. Thoreau's Pencil

3. National Handwriting Day

4. Writing on Clay

5. When WordStar Was King

6. Trusting the Text

7. Writing on Screen

8. Everyone's an Author

9. A Space of One's Own

10. The Dark Side of the Web

11. From Pixels to Pencils

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edutechsenthil, August 24, 2010 (view all comments by edutechsenthil)
The title is much impressive and the lay-out is simply superb. The arguements are quite thought-provoking. A must read for any one who is left with a few years in his or her ELT career.
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Product Details

Baron, Dennis
Oxford University Press, USA
null, Dennis
Baron, Dennis E.
Writing -- Materials and instruments -- History.
Written communication
Popular Culture - General
Linguistics - General
Popular Culture
Linguistics | The English Language
Education-Teaching Reading and Writing
Series Volume:
Readers, Writers, an
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
6 x 9.3 x 0.9 in 1.169 lb

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Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
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Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Popular Science » Computer Science

A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution New Hardcover
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Product details 280 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195388442 Reviews:
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