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Archive for January 2nd, 2009

to eee or not to eee

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From a constructivist manifesto by Mayakovsky cited in Barrett Watten’s The Constructivist Moment:

What are the fundamental requirements for beginning poetic labor?

[…]

Fourth: Equipment. The business equipment and tools of the trade  Pen, pencil, typewriter, telephone, a suit for visits to the doss-house, a bicycle for riding to editorial offices, a well-arranged table.

I am trying to decide whether or not to buy an eee tomorrow. (Adam Kotsko went through the same ordeal a few days ago…)  I’ve tried out IT’s when she’s not looking, and I do like the damn thing, even though, sure, they keys are tiny and my fingers are very very long. But first of all I have an ancient (but apparently still value-retaining) gift card for an electronics store that may or may not survive the first month of the new year… I’m not sure how much is on it, but it should at least be enough to knock a fifth or a third off of the price. I want the barest-bones model they carry…. Aside from the light weight and narrow dimensions of the thing (it takes up the same amount of space, reportedly, as the hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Ivory Tower of Self-Denial that I carry around with me everywhere I go) it’s the open-source minimalism that makes me crave owning one. I tried to install Linux on one of my own old machines (a superlight Dell with a crapped out battery) but gave up once I realized how complicated the drivers would be to acquire and orient.  But using the eee would, I’m sure, feel like I was using a computer from the minimalist, rationalized future, like a  govt. issued intellectual sidearm stocked with freeware and political-correctness. And if it didn’t, I would make it feel so by sheer force of delusional will.

But on the other hand, the very program (Macjournal) that I’m writing this post in – and which I know use for all sorts of notetaking and record-keeping and personal journaling and blogging – obviously I won’t have on the new machine. And it won’t effortlessly sync with my other machines via (the incredibly expensive) .mac thing. I write my lectures and do my course prep and keep research notes in Circus Ponies Notebook, and I’m thinking about using Scrivener for book type projects. Not to mention iTunes, and the difficulty of marking papers the way I like to in OpenOffice.Argghh! Mac lock-in! Proprietary formats! It really is a problem, though. The deal breaker, maybe.

I’ve always, since I was a kid, been a materials and means fetishist. I suspect that many of us in this business one way or another are the same way, had the same start. The four color pens, the trapper-keeper inserts, later filofax things, pdas, and now my iPhone and potentially the eee. If this is the case, it’s actually a cheering thought – the idea that we write because we like to play with the tools, that the tools exists therefore we should use them with enthusiasm to make something good… We’re all of us constructivists from the start. Figuring out what it should mean that this is the case, aside from buying a new computer with a utopian (if locked down) operating system, is another matter but worth considering….

This isn’t a start at that consideration, but it is worth noting: at various times when I’ve considered giving up blogging, one of the leading thoughts contra is the consideration of what then my computer will be good for if it’s scaled back to simple email reception and word processing and light surfing. The Macbook would, in other, feel broken, out of work, if I didn’t blog. See? The tool forces the tool-use when the tool is owned by someone like me.

Another post entirely should be devoted to the other major purchase I am planning for my last days in the land of the free: gonna buy a pair of jeans, my first in oh several decades. Hmmmm….. It feels like such a bad idea now that I put it in html. I haven’t worn jeans in approximately, well, since I was a young boy. Another post, another post. Who knew I’d veer into a bizarre form of (self-referential) fashion blogging.

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January 2, 2009 at 7:14 am

Posted in me, open, simplicity