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As I sit staring at my screen, it occurred to me how for granted I take the advent of the computer in my life. Up until the late 90s, I didn’t own a computer. I couldn’t type, still can’t, but I fake it. I don’t understand how a computer works, could never write whatever it is to create a website, and have no idea how the written word in the netherworld can magically appear on my screen, chapter after chapter, if I so choose. But then again, I still don’t get how TV, radios and records work. Electricity–a complete wonder. The point is–how is not an interest of mine. It’s there, I use it. Considering that I depend on a computer for a multitude of uses, I forget how amazing the whole thing is.

I’m reminded, however, when the damn amazing thing doesn’t work the way I want it to–for example–if I’m on  bookfinder, trying to locate a specific title, and the browser is taking a lifetime to load. Or if  I buy a title from an online seller, such as an out of print book by google, the computer freezes in mid download. When the thing doesn’t play ball, I realize how it’s permeated my life, and that finding books I want would not be possible without it. I’ve no clue as to what causes these glitches, I only hope they don’t happen the next time I’m searching for an old out of print children’s book.

Here’s an example of before pc (all types) and after pc. Back in my 20s, cave years to most, I badly wanted an intact copy of a particular children’s book. Where do I look? Travel the world visiting every rare or second hand bookshop? Put an ad in the newspaper? Years go by, and I can’t locate one. When I finally do come across a copy, it’s without several plates. I find a second copy, it’s without several pages of text. This happens over another period of years. I see an ad in the New York Book Review, for a book searcher-one who tries to find the book you want. I put a request in to her. Years, yes, years later, she finally finds one, in jacket and at last, by the time I’m in my mid 30s, I have my prized copy.

Today, I click on bookfinder, type in the title, every copy in the english speaking world pops up. I search on ebay–a cheap copy is available. I google the title, illustrations from the book are all over the internet. I don’t care if little elves power my machine. That fact I can locate most books through it, is all I need to know.

Diane Plumley

Diane Plumley

Diane Plumley

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One Comment

  1. Yeah? Computer . . .

    oh.

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