One has to wonder what historians will do in the future in their attempts to piece together how twenty-first century writers wrote their classic tomes (or presidents commanded their triumphs and errors) when everything we do today is by computer and prone to disappearing.
Once upon a time I would make innumerable paper copies of the various drafts of my books. I would keep copies of the copy-edited manuscript and the final page proofs. The University of Kentucky even requested that I donate all this "dead matter" (as publishing so lovingly calls it) to their archives, and they’ve stored a truckload of
boxes of my immortal words. I don’t even want to imagine the number of documents in a presidential archive!
But these days, I might print a single draft copy so I can do a final read through and edit on paper. After typing in those changes, I send my final version by e-mail so I don’t have paper copy of the final, although I try hard to save it on CD as well as on my USB drive. I do all my revisions by computer, and now my publisher is doing copy edits electronically—unfortunately or not, depending on who you’re talking to on what day.
Apparently, I am one of my publisher’s guinea pigs. The electronic copy edits are brand new for them, and everyone is struggling to find all the glitches. And boy, did they give it to the right person for
finding glitches! I can destroy a computer simply by glaring at it. Luckily for all concerned, the copy edit was remarkably clean, so no glaring was involved. But ellipses take a special formatting, and I use a lot of them… The end result seems to have been a global delete of ellipses which I did not improve by stetting. (for a fun take on punctuation marks and the place I stole the vegetable ellipsis: http://corporatecartoons.blogspot.com/2007/11/lets-rate-punctuation-marks.html)
And then, of course, I worked the copy edit on my MacBook because it’s so much more comfy to sit in a recliner when working tedious tasks. More complications set in. The final result is apparently gobbledygook and panic in New York. So nice to know that I haven’t lost my touch. And that Apple and Microsoft can still snarl at each other.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, would SIMPLIFY their software instead of constantly adding new gobbledygook that only makes it more difficult for different people to work on the same document? I’ve seen the new Office Word and it has stuff in there only a cartoon artist on crack could use. What makes them think that everyone in the world wants graphics and numbers and drawings and all this fancy technology? Has it not occurred to them that SPECIALIZING is the next wave of programming? Word for Writers has a lovely ring to it. Word for Artists. Word for Business. We all use different functions, different languages, comprende?
And then, once I wave my wand and convert Microsoft to my way of thinking, I want a simple method of permanent document storage. According to my techie sources, neither CDs or USB drives are reliable for long-term storage. And I’m a trifle tired of copying all my old electronic files to every new format that comes along. If paper is good for a thousand years, why can’t technology beat that?
Anyone else want to get creative and send a message (or darts) to Bill Gates?
And who wants to imagine what historians and archeologists in the future will have to do to uncover the secrets of the 21st century? Read minds?
And if we have anyone here from the future—will you please tell me the best way of preserving my files?