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robertogreco : writeroom   5

How to Write a History of Writing Software - The Atlantic
"Isaac Asimov, John Updike, and John Hersey changed their writing habits to adapt to word processors, according to the first literary historian of the technology."



"There are three things I really like about that story and why I feel like it’s the best candidate for quote-unquote “first.”

One, it defamiliarizes our sense of what word processing is. It’s not a typewriter connected to a TV set. The key thing turns out to be the magnetic storage layer. The other thing thing I like about it is—there’s a term I use in the book, “suspended encryption.” That captures that dynamic of word processing: You’re writing, but there’s a kind of suspended animation to it. The text remains in its fluid, malleable state, until such time as you commit it to hard copy.

The other thing I like about the story is that it captures that gendered dynamic, that social dimension of writing. It’s not just the author alone at his typewriter. It’s really a collaborative process, there is a gender dimension to it, and there’s something very human about it, I think."



"Meyer: There is a material history you can read from a typewriter. I think you mention the example of Lawrence Rainey, a scholar of T.S. Eliot, being able to decode The Waste Land’s compositional history by looking at his typewriter. And I remember there being anxiety around writing software, and the future of that kind of scholarship. Did writing this history make you buy into the anxiety that we won’t be able to preserve contemporary literary work?

Kirschenbaum: So much of writing now, and that includes literary writing, that includes novels and poetry that will become culturally resonant and important—all of this happens now digitally. And that was something that I was interesting in writing about, writing the book. What I found is that there were often very surprising examples of evidence remaining, even from these early days of word processing history.

There’s a kind of paradox at the heart of this. As you know, we’ve all lost files, or had important stuff disappear into the [digital] ether, so there’s all that volatility and fragility we associate with the computer. But it’s also a remarkably resilient medium. And there are some writers who are using the actual track-changes feature or some other kind of versioning system to preserve their own literary manuscripts literally keystroke by keystroke."



"Meyer: You talk a little bit about looking at different paths for word processing after Word. You go into “austerityware,” which is your phrase for software like WriteRoom, which tries to cut down on distractions. Is there any prognosticating you feel like you could do about what’s catching on next?

Kirschenbaum: I do think we’re seeing this interesting return to what instructors of writing for a long time have called free writing, which is just about the uninhibited process of getting stuff out there, doing that sort of initial quick and dirty draft. What’s interesting to me is that there are now particular tools and platforms that are emerging with that precise model of writing in mind.

The one that’s gotten the most attention is the one I write about at the end of the book. At the time I was writing, it was called the Hemingwrite, but now it’s called Freewrite. It’s essentially a very lightweight, very portable keyboard, with a small screen and portable memory. It reminds me of the way a lot of writers talk about their fountain pens—these exquisitely crafted and engineers fine instruments for writing. The Freewrite aspires to bring that same level of craft and deliberation to the fabrication of a purpose-built writing instrument.

So, you know, in a sense, I think we’re going to see more and more of those special-purpose writing platforms. I think writing might move away from the general-purpose computer—we’ll still do lots of writing of all sorts at our regular laptop, but it might be your email, your social media. For dedicated long-form writing, I think there may be more and more alternatives."



"Meyer: One thing I love about the book are all the office pictures—the pictures from ’80s offices, especially. There is a sense looking at the images that the desks are retrofitted writers’s desks, rather than the kind of generic surface-with-a-laptop setup that I think a lot of people work at now.

Kirschenbaum: The visual history of all of this is really interesting. One of the hard thing was trying to figure out is, what is a literary history of word processing, how do you go about researching it? Maybe by going to the archives, but you also do it by looking at the way in which computers really were represented in the kind of imagery I was looking at earlier. You look at the old office photographs. You see a picture of Amy Tan sitting with a laptop and you try to figure out what kind of laptop it is, and lastly you do it by talking to people. It was the oral histories I did that were the best research for the book."
robinsonmeyer  wordprocessing  software  history  isaacasimov  johnupdike  writing  howewrite  computing  matthewkirschenbaum  lendeighton  ellenorhandley  johnhersey  jerrypournelle  sciencefiction  scifi  thomaspynchon  gorevidal  charlesbukowski  rcrumb  tseliot  lawrencerainey  trackchanges  typing  typewriters  freewrite  writeroom  hamingwrite  evekosofskysedgwick  howwework  howwewrite  amytan 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A list of writing tools is a displacement activity - rodcorp
"Writing, focussing, assembling, editing, collaborating, feeding back, researching, structuring, outputting and publishing.

Focus through constraint:

• iaWriter - "Keep your hands on the keyboard and your mind in the text". Has good reviews.
• Byword - "Simple and efficient text editing". Also has good reviews.
• Writeroom - appears a generation older than iaWriter and Byword.
• Textmate - does text , html and a zillion other developer's things.

Research speed and convenience:

• nvALT - Speeds up that did-I-already-write-about-this? moment, auto-saves, does text files, Markdown. Nice. I'm writing this post in it.
• Pinboard - elegantly executed webpage bookmarking.

Collaborating and community feedback:

• Draft - its drafts are neat version control, has premium "ask a pro".
• Poetica - "Get feedback about your writing from people you trust, wherever they are" - not released yet.
• Google Docs - good at collaboration and export, auto-saves. Has automated versioning but without actual version *control*.

Assembling, structuring, editing and eBook workflow:

• Ulysses 3 - "All your texts. In one place. Always." Not tried, but this review says "the app reimagines the text editor in a way that visually resembles Mail and conceptually sits somewhere between iA Writer and the project-based Scrivener". Which sounds like quite a thing.
• Scrivener - looks a bit of a mess to be honest. They also have Scapple, a mind map/words-on-sticks app.
• LeanPub - "Publish Early, Publish Often - Authors and publishers use Leanpub to publish amazing in-progress and completed books". Costs $0.50 plus 10%.
• Lacuna books - "the best way to write and publish a book". Big on structuring, rendering chapters and ebooks easily.

Formats and outputs:

• Marked, Mou - because between text and html, Markdown is the popular "intermediary" format, and these (and nvALT) are good at simultaneous preview.
• And a simple Google Apps script to convert a Google Drive Document to markdown

Online publishing and attention:

• Medium - "A better place to read and write things that matter" - becoming a centre of gravity for serious writing, per-para commenting interesting
• Wattpad - an ebook platform/store/agora that isn't Kindleland.

Back to it now."
writing  tools  onlinetoolkit  rodmclaren  2013  jawriter  byword  writeroom  textmate  nvalt  pinboard  draft  poetica  googledocs  ulysses3  scrivener  leanpub  lacunabooks  marked  mou  markdown  googleapps  googledrive  medium  wattpad  howwework  howwewrite  webapps  publishing  formatting  ebooks  epub  collaboration  editing  focusing  focus  feedback  researching  epublishing  collaborativewriting  digitalpublishing  epubs 
august 2013 by robertogreco
WriteRoom for iPhone — Distraction free writing for your iPhone
"For people who want to write on their iPhone. WriteRoom for iPhone is a distraction free writing environment. Unlike Notes, WriteRoom provides a clean interface and tether free syncing.
software  writing  iphone  writeroom  applications  ios 
january 2010 by robertogreco
In search of the distraction-free computer desktop. - By Jeffrey MacIntyre - Slate Magazine
"As outrageous and premature as it sounds, programs like WriteRoom could have the kind of impact for this generation that The Elements of Style had for another, by distilling down the writing process and laying bare its constituent parts."
productivity  software  tools  lifehacks  writeroom  mac  osx  usability  distraction  continuouspartialattention  attention  writing 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Screw Microsoft Word - Featured on BuzzFeed
"Like Howard Beale in Network, many longtime Microsoft Word users are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. So they're abandoning Word in droves, turning instead to Google Docs and other more elegant, intuitive, user-friendly apps such as
wordprocessing  microsoft  office  text  googledocs  writeroom  scrivener  trends 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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