In the Easy Reader book Hooray for Henry (available on Amazon for $768.57; that’s $12.60 per page), our eponymous protagonist Henry can’t win any of the events at the picnic games. One of the refrains as he participates in the races is “faster, faster—too fast” (I may have got the punctuation wrong, but then I haven’t read the book for at least a couple of decades and I can’t afford a new one). That story seems to have become a symbol for those of us mired in technology. The rate of change is, as in Henry’s experience, too fast. The other day I noticed an annoying warning on my laptop that claims I’m low on memory and that I have to close some applications. What with all that tech requires of us these days I probably do have too many things open at once. It pops up, however, when I have even just one application open.
A web search revealed this is probably a virus (something that used to be rare on Macs, but that was back in the day when things moved a little slower). The steps for removing it were technical and appeared to be extremely time-consuming. What I don’t have is time. And it’s not just my rare time off work that’s too full. On the job we’re constantly having to learn new software. It doesn’t really matter what your line of work is, if it involves sitting behind a computer we’re constantly being told to learn new applications while trying to find time to do the jobs we’re paid to do. There’s no question of which is the tail and which is the dog here. With an economy driven largely by tech, because that’s where all the jobs are, you risk everything if you don’t upgrade (about every two weeks at present).
I’ve been writing a long time. Decades. Some of my earlier pieces are no longer openable because the software with which I wrote them has been upgraded to the point that it can’t read its own earlier writing. To the prolific this presents a real problem. I have, literally, thousands of pieces of writing. I can’t upgrade every single one each time a new release comes out. The older ones, it seems, are lost forever. I used to print out every post on this blog. Given that there are now even thousands of them, I eventually gave up. I know that they will inevitably disappear into the fog some day. For writers who’ve been discovered after their deaths this would be a Bradburian fate. Or perhaps a Serlingesque twist. The world realizes a writer had something important to say, but her or his writing can no longer be read because the tech is outdated. Faster, faster—too fast.