My friend, Diana Beebe of Mermaids Don’t do Windows, blogged last week about trying to undo what she learned in typing class, back when we used to double space after typing a period. This reminded me of a blog post topic I’ve been mulling far longer than was actually needed.

  • Technology in books and film.
This, of course, was Pierce Brosnan’s first time as Bond, James Bond. Despite the technology blooper, I loved this movie and still like to watch it.

I think about the dangers of specificity every time I see the movie GoldenEye. Remember the moment (mild spoiler alert!) when the geek-masquerading-as-a-good-guy brags about his 14.4 modem? It might have been cool when the movie was made in 1995—no, by the time the movie released we’d moved on to the 28.8, based on this timeline. Ouch.

Most of the time I feel like I’m old tech. I remember the crank dialed phones where you had to talk where the phone was, not where you’d like to be.  Oh, and party lines anyone?

In my comment on the post, I mention that I am “as old as dirt” and while there is dirt older than me, I feel older than really old dirt when I think back and realize how very much has changed.

My two grandmas went from horse and buggies to seeing men go to the moon, and lived long enough to see early desktop computers and those suitcase cell phones that seemed so cool at the time…

See how short that cord is? That’s how far away you could get from the phone. Sometimes the cord to wall was longer, but not always.

My personal journey begins about the same time as Godzilla—is that a plus or a minus?—and b&w television. I played on dirt roads, and wrote my first story on a typewriter you had to POUND to get the keys to hit the paper. Yes, there is a reason “they” call it pounding out a story. That story was two paragraphs long and exhausted me rethinking being a writer for several years.

There are still writers out there who type and even some who write their first drafts by hand. I would not lie about this, even though it boggles my mind. And makes my fingers cramp in sympathy.

I understand the compulsion to fight change, because if you have a way to get the Muse going, you don’t want to mess with it. Unless it gives your hands major CRAMP. And then you need to come to an accommodation with the Muse. IMHO.

Ahem, back to books and tech.

Cover art for The Spy Who Kissed Me
This is the third cover for this book, which was originally titled PIG IN A PARK.

So, when I wrote The Spy Who Kissed Me and my Lonesome Lawmen series, particularly while writing The Last Enemy, technology was changing so fast I was having to update my character’s laptop and online options almost weekly. Okay, maybe not weekly, but it felt like it was that fast at the time. I finally gave up trying to keep up and tried advancing the technology. And I got a bit more…vague in my descriptions to try to keep the book from feeling too dated.

To put it in perspective, I went online in 1993 or 94, certainly was online by 1995. And yes, I had a 14.4 modem, a 28.8…

The Spy Who Kissed Me (written and SET in 1992) released the first time in 1998 and no one was bothered—at that time—that my character preferred a typewriter. The Last Enemy was published the first time in 1999 and the tech was thought to be kind of cool.

Technology isn’t the only thing that can make a work feel dated, though it is the most obvious. The real world as setting is also hitting a moving target, though it tends to change slower than technology. Unless it gets hit by a hurricane…

I am happy The Spy Who Kissed Me is still in print, but some people discovering the book now weren’t born during the First Gulf War. Okay a lot weren’t born and yes, Virginia there were two Gulf Wars. (If you don’t recognize the Virginia reference, well, I feel old as dirt again.)

Am I sorry that there are parts of my back list that are a bit dated? No, I’m not. I wrote both books for readers then. I couldn’t see the future, and in fact, the future of books back then wasn’t that great if you were a small beans, aspiring writer. The chances of my books getting published, let alone still being available to readers…well, it was a dream, a faint hope.

And that setting was what shaped my characters into who they were. If I went back and updated them, they wouldn’t be the same people anymore, just like I wouldn’t be me with Godzilla and dirt roads and huge, old typewriters.

I typed my first short story on one very like this. It took me years to try again. It was so exhausting hitting the keys.

So, are you old tech or new?

All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for $20 AnaBanana gift card, for this month only. And wow, this is last blog post that is eligible for the $20 card! Hurry! Comment now! Winner is announced in the first blog post of the new month, which will be in two days! So act now! (grin)

Perilously yours,

Pauline

When Pauline isn’t feeling old, or writing about adventures in space, she is fictionally revisiting New Orleans, the setting for her new, romantic suspense series called The Big Uneasy. The first book in the series released the end of March in digital and will release in print and audio this summer. Relatively Risky is currently available in these online bookstores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Sony Reader Store, All Romance eBooks, Kobo and Smashwords.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, action adventure
Magical New Orleans. A girl and a guy. Wait! Bullets and bad guys? A normal day in the Big UNeasy. Well, what passes for normal…

Are You Old Tech (like dirt) or New Tech?

4 thoughts on “Are You Old Tech (like dirt) or New Tech?

  • April 30, 2013 at 9:31 am
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    Your post made me laugh out loud and cringe in equal measure, Pauline! I am old technology and a slow adopter of new technology (although I am inching toward a faster pace of adoption!).

    I grew up out in the country and we had a party line – it was the bane of my teenage existence (and I was probably the bane of the little old ladies who shared that line…). I spent my childhood making mud pies and chasing baby goats and picking stickers out of my bare feet. I was rinsed off with a garden hose before I was allowed in the house again. Television? That was a little box with a wavery B&W picture and those funny skinny rabbit ears on top that made no difference to the reception of the three-ish channels we could pick up.

    Fast forward to the late ‘eighties. One of the requirements for my first ‘professional’ job was that I be able to lift 35 pounds, because that’s how much the portable computer – a luggable – I would carry around weighed. Thank goodness they got small fast – not sure how much lugging my back could’ve taken!

    Okay, I’d better stop. Thank you for this post and the blast from the past!

    • April 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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      I am so glad you enjoyed it and sorry about the wince! LOL Mud pies, rinsing off in the hose, party lines and b&w tv. Oh my, it feels like a different planet now, doesn’t it? Even 80’s movies look old to me now. LOL Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  • April 30, 2013 at 8:34 am
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    Thanks for the shout out, Pauline. I’m glad my post raised so many memories. 😉 I remember old technology, too, and I don’t think I’m as old as dirt. You aren’t either, by the way. {{{Hugs}}}

    I still remember the first time I used a computer and the sounds of the dial up. I still say, “You sound like a broken record” to my kids. They don’t even know what that means.
    Diana Beebe recently posted…The Roommate Chronicles: Rabid RabbitMy Profile

    • April 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm
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      Isn’t it crazy sometimes, to realize what our kids don’t know, might not ever know? Oh that painful sound! LOL Records and 14.4 modems. Oh my.

      And you are most welcome. You had a fun post there!

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