I’ve been playing with the old Apple Mac this morning – the one I used for NaNoWriMo last year – the one I told myself would provide a distraction free writing environment. Such a good idea – pretending to be George R R Martin running his copy of Wordstar on an old PC – right until I discovered a website called “Macintosh Garden” full of abandonware. The Mac now has AppleWorks, iWork, Filemaker, Stuffit, WriteRoom, and a host of other long-forgotten applications installed on it (all applications I used to own, I might add). A bit later on today a very, very old version of Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc) will appear on it. You might wonder why I’m bothering. I’m asking myself the same question. I’ll go with “curiosity”, “reminiscing”, and “tinkering”.
I remember spending the better part of a couple of years using Adobe Illustrator to draw building cross-sections for marketing materials where I used to work. Although my main job revolved around systems administration, and development of the database the staff used to run the business, in-between I got called on to produce product technical sheets and so on (it was a manufacturing company). I also remember spending countless hours messing around with FileMaker – the business ended up using Microsoft Access, but it was a close run thing.
It’s funny – looking back – at how differently computers were used before the internet came along. These days the computer sitting on our desk is just a conduit to the internet – the thing that gets us to the thing – whereas years ago, the computer WAS the thing. I guess that description doesn’t really work either, because the internet is just another huge collection of computers, all working together. Maybe that’s the point though – maybe “the thing” we have always been trying to get to doesn’t exist – it’s really about the transformation and communication of information. Oh I’ll shut up already – this is turning into a computer science lecture with a side of philosophy.