February 10, 2006

Why I am Not Going to Buy A Computer

Posted in Irin Westerfield at 10:11 pm by groupone

Wendell Berry’s justification for not buying a computer is not totally sound. 

For instance, his reasoning concerning ecology contains some truths, but it is “half-baked.”

A major concern of ecologists is deforestation, namely of the world’s rainforests. If Berry would create his work on a word processor, he would not have to waste paper. When using a typewriter, or when handwriting on a legal pad, paper is invariably wasted. Rough drafts, idea notes, re-writes and other miscellaneous activities that precede a finished writing project, can be done on the computer without the need of paper. With Berry’s old-fashioned way, the author is left with a pile of scrap papers.

If the author is so concerned with strip-mined coal dependence, why is he not concerned with deforestation, as well?

Berry’s “list” does very little to help his argument. For instance, why should an improved tool be cheaper than the one it replaces? The number 9 reason against a computer was quite interesting and philosophically challenging. Part of reason 9 is a reference to his wife. I inferred from Berry’s essay that his wife checks for spelling errors, fragments, and other problems. A fancy computer might be able to do all that work and replace his wife.

I must give Berry credit for another great point: the computer will not generate talent for you. To me, this was his best argument. But even here I have disagreement. My question to Berry would be, “Do you think that a word processor would diminish talent from a genius?”

Although I found Berry’s work to be entertaining and thought provoking, I was not completely compelled by his argument.

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1 Comment »

  1. groupfour said,

    Good point about all of the paper that he would be wasting by handwriting and typing everything. I was not convinced of his point but it was at least interesting to read.
    Jonathan Wooten


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