Followers of my social media might be aware that I’m presently working on a project concerning the history of educational technology and its consequences for the perceived cultural and discursive connection between disability and the mechanical. Part of this work centers on a series of experiments carried out using the Edison Responsive Environment, perhaps better known as the “Talking Typewriter. While I’ve been working on this project, I’ve discovered a few curiosities that likely won’t make it into any paper that emerges from my research, but nevertheless captivate me sufficiently to cause me to write about them. Thus, I’m going to be posting some brief notes about some of these tangents, because I suspect I’m not the only one who might find them interesting. These are sketches, perhaps ramblings, but certainly not fully developed thoughts.
One of these tangents is the process by which the ERE was programmed; while the hardware aspects of the ERE are well documented (see Lockett, 2019 for a contemporary treatment) the specifics of developing ERE software deserve attention in part because it offers a window into how, before the emergence of standardized means, we set about constructing machines for personal computing.
Brief update since I’m writing from my bed with the latest variety of COVID-19, but I’m thrilled to tell you all that a part of Telephone Girl, the thing I’m writing and am not fully sure how to classify, is featured in issue two of A New Session, a telnet-based literary magazine edited by Cara Esten and Lo Ferris.
You can read it by (a) ensuring you have a telnet client installed and (b) opening a terminal window and sending the command “telnet issue2.anewsession.com”.
Anyway, COVID is awful, and I cannot recommend it.
I am not a connoissseur of local news. Most of the time it’s little more than a mechanism by which people can launder their petty grievances in print, and when it’s not that, it’s a vehicle for delivering paper advertisements for big box stores that inexplicably still exist. Still, sometimes one is in line at the gas station buying a Cheesewich (the ideal food for writing prose and staving off spironolactone sodium deficiency, much to the chagrin of pickle fans) and when one is in such a line, grasping one’s Cheesewich, one sometimes finds oneself staring at the newspaper rack, and one sees something truly dreadful:
I’m writing from the passenger seat of my wife’s car; the fun thing about being out in the middle of nowhere is having time to get some work done, and I seem to have better luck with that from this seat than in my actual office. I decided to do some document management and realized I could mine this process for content, so with that in mind, here’s my reading list for autumn 2021.
Those among you who know the “deep Em Cariglino lore” (and there should be extremely few of you) know that in high school, I was a very mediocre but very spirited debater. The side effect of all this, of course, is that whenever I hear the word “debate,” I wither a bit, if only because I feel a bit wounded by those years, and I feel a deep and unabating need to absolve myself of certain intellectual sins.
So I bought them. 152 of them: eight found serendipitously on etsy, another gross of them found the same day on eBay (I had meant to order thirty-six pencils, I ordered thirty-six packs of four).
And.. they’re fine.
Well, let me qualify that. They write fine, they make a consistent HB mark, they’re a bit scratchy, but that’s not what’s fascinating here. What I find delightful is that, well, these exist, they appear to have emerged while the Palomino Blackwing-type pencil already existed, and I can only find speculation about why they disappeared.
If you want some, buy from here, they’ll come reasonably quickly.
This is not a profile of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 – people have written those, and they’re ultimately all good, but I find myself far more curious about what it’s like to use one of the original articles from which so much fandom and so much value inflation springs.