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

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


By (author) Dennis Baron

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 236mm x 23mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 29 October 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195388445
  • ISBN 13: 9780195388442
  • Illustrations note: numerous halftones
  • Sales rank: 431,913

Product description

A Better Pencil examines the digital revolution in light of the history of writing technology. Baron looks at how we love, fear, actually use our writing machines-not just computers but typewriters, pencils, and clay tablets-how we deploy them to replicate the old ways of doing things while actively generating new modes of mass expression; how we learn to trust new technology and the new and strange sorts of texts that it produces; hwo we expand the notion of who can write and who can't; and how we free our readers and writers while at the same time trying to regulate their activities.

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Author information

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

Review quote

A useful counter-argument to the gloomy techno-pessimists, Henry Farrell, Times Higher Education Baron engages with readers' experiences and personal encounters with new media used as tools for self-expression and general dialogue. He follows a personalized, humerous and at times eccentric course, discussing writing tools (including a long and fascinating section on the complex history of pencil-making) and musing on processes and social experimentation. David Finkelstein, The Times Literary Supplement Highly enjoyable book...He writes with infectious curiosity and wit. Stephen Poole There is much that is worthwhile in 'A Better Pencil'. Times Higher Education A gleeful and provocative read. Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Table of contents

Preface: Technologies of the Word ; Introduction ; 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 ; Works Cited