As some of you may have heard, a handful of pioneering companies are trying to use flying robots in place of cars for deliveries. In the Bay Area, the geniuses behind Tacocopter are blazing a new path for restaurants, while in France, the postal service in Auvergne is working on a system for newspapers. (Fingers crossed that somebody will try this with lit mags.)
It’s not always technical walls that stop change in its tracks. Sometimes, innovation is limited by language itself. When metaphors start to die, or when we forget that they’re only tools, they can become some of the most powerful forces against innovation.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to introduce you to a vending machine that sells books.
I can’t conceive of any justification for writing an 800-page book about the internet. The internet’s certainly revolutionized our lives economically, sexually, blah blah. But only real cultures deserve real monuments. Technologies do not.
Ever want to watch someone write a novel? Nows your chance. Sorta. Silvia Hartmann, UK author of thriller novels, is inviting readers to observe as she types up her next novel in a Google doc.
Every generation rewrites the book’s epitaph; all that changes is the whodunit.
I’m interested in novels that render what Gates calls “this new mode of living” — those that successfully incorporate technology into their characters’ experiences.
Fiction allows for a certain level of restraint, after all, where the author need not include a protagonist’s every bathroom break or end each scene with the characters saying goodbye. Why then, if it’s common practice to avoid including other unglamorous functions of characters’ daily lives — like said bathroom break — is it necessary to show them texting and refreshing their inboxes?
Think of it this way: in most cases, a bowel movement will not move the plot forward; an email will.
Despite all the trouble technology might cause, when it’s absent from contemporary novels, a big white elephant appears on the page and starts ambling around. (Perhaps searching for an unprotected Wi-Fi network?)
It is an impish god. I try retyping the name on a different device. This time the letters reshuffle themselves into “Format McCarthy.” Welcome to the club, Format. Meet the Danish astronomer Touchpad Brahe and the Franco-American actress Natalie Portmanteau.