I am a luddite. Some technological changes do not please me.
I do not like the cloud.
I do not like e-books.
I do not like streaming music/videos.
All of this has to do with the fact that I prefer physical possession of media. I enjoy scribbling notes in my books. I notice I don’t power skim as much with physical paper as I do a digital screen. I want to own the hard-drive the (my) media is on. I want to know where it is and I want to know that if someone takes it from me, I can file charges for theft (a lot harder to do when you don’t physically own the item, even if you did keep the receipt from a purchase from five years back – and yes, I have seen a number of articles indicating merchant take-backs or outright refusals to transfer media).
But technology advances, regardless of the howls from my people. Which, I suppose, is normal.
I’ve read several articles over the years about “Back In My Day” (it wasn’t the real title, but roll with me here) – in which parents complain in letters and journals about how their children have no respect for authority, always beg for money, no work ethic, etc, ad nauseum, dating from the Babylonian era through this last century. The parental complaint is one of the foundation stones of humanity, it seems.
It makes me wonder if the luddite complaint is another foundation stone, but one much less known.
Kattywampus: “Ishtar, Gilgamesh and Anu, what is this crate of… what is this? Dead plants?”
KattyJunior: “It’s called ‘Papyrus.’ You write on it instead of clay tablets. It takes up less space. ”
Kattywampus: “How are you supposed to write on this junk?”
KattyJunior: “You use this really pointy stylus and this liquid called ‘ink.’ It’s a bit like dye. The whole writing thing takes a little while to get used to, but once you learn, it’s a breeze.”
Kattywampus: “Anu’s balls… Are you kidding me? This stuff isn’t archival. You can’t be serious. If your house burns down, all of your ledgers go with it if they’re documented on this.”
KattyJunior: “Everybody is converting to this, Mom. It’s the future.”
Kattywampus: “This is crap. It won’t last. Once you press your stylus into clay and fire it, it’s there forever. Even if it gets broken, you can reassemble the pieces. I can tear this apart with my hands, and toss it in the waste bucket and no one will ever be able to read it again.”
KattyJunior: “Mom, I know learning new things can be hard, but-“
Kattywampus: “What about tracking my own expenses for taxes? What if the wind blows through the door and scatters these things out of the house? What if water drips from a hole in the ceiling and destroys them? That doesn’t happen to clay tablets. What about the seal I use to sign everything? That won’t work on paprika.”
KattyJunior: “‘Papyrus,’ Mom.”
Kattywampus: “Pappy-something. Whatever. This is just some fad. Just like when you swore you had to have those sandals for your wedding. ‘Everyone has those sandals,’ you said. What happened? Three people had them at your wedding, I was one of them, you were the other and Credecia down the street had a pair. No one else has had them since and it’s been five years. Have you even worn them since?”
KattyJunior: “This is a completely different thing than fashion, Mom.”
Kattywampus: “No, it isn’t. You kids get caught up in the newest everything that comes into the city from any merchant claiming to be from a land you’ve never heard of. ‘Oooooo….It’s the best thing ever!’ you all say without even thinking about the consequences of using it. What happens if the grocer Algebraith if decides not to deliver on a contract that was written on papyrus? If he loses or destroys it, it’s only my word against his and he’s got more money than I do. He’ll win in the courts every time.”
KattyJunior: “Mooooommmmm… Algebraith is NOT going to steal from you. No one will. I know this is scary because it’s new, but if you just give it a chance-“
Kattywampus: “Absolutely not. I like feeling the pressure of the stylus against the clay in my hand. I like knowing that what I’ve written will be there forever. I like knowing that I can just go out back and mix up some more clay to make tablets if I run out or even reuse an old one I didn’t fire that had an old shopping list on it. You can’t reuse this junk except as kindling.”
Husband: “So, how did it go?”
KattyJunior: “Ugh. I think we might have to start looking into The Daughters of Ishtar Nursing Home…”