As each new season brings more waves of higher-tech digital products, I often think of Mark Twain. Along with being a brilliant writer, he was also an ill-fated investor -- fascinated with the latest technical innovations, including the strides toward functional typewriters and typesetting equipment as the 19th century neared its close.
Twain would have marveled at the standard PC that we take for granted now. But what would he have made of the intrusiveness of present-day media technology -- let alone its recurring content?
It's getting harder and harder to drive out of cell-phone range -- that is, if you really want to. And judging from scenes at countless remote locations, many people would rather not forfeit 24/7 phone access for conversations that involuntary eavesdroppers hear half of. (Virtually always, it seems, the more boring half.)
These days, mainstream media fascination with blogs and the bloggers who love them often seems to assume that the very use of the Internet enhances the content or style of what has been written. It's a seductive cyber-fantasy. Speed is useful, and so are hyperlinks and visuals-on-demand, but -- fortunately or not, depending on your point of view -- there's no digital invisible hand that can move any piece of writing very far along the road to worthwhile reading...