Having just experienced an enforced 10-day separation from my computer during which I discovered the pleasures of the internet café and silence I have to say I am delighted to be re-united with my trusty 12-inch Apple iBook. This is not because I am a compulsive geek but because that is where all my stuff appears to be these days and being shut out of it was very frustrating. So thank you Micromend of Tottenham Street, W1 for finally putting me out of my misery late yesterday afternoon.
Like most literary folk I have always had some worries about the computer - not the fogeyish ones about the superiority of the fountain-pen but more seriously about what they are doing to the nature of our minds. I mean that the constant state of alert that permanent broadband connections now put us in, with a PING! every so often as a new email arrives, is at war with the more sustained kinds of concentration and long-haul mental engagement that serious reading demands. The screen is always there and the web's culture of links which makes intellectual grasshoppers of us all is an added threat to the long, slow silences which reading needs. What am I saying? Junk all computers? Of course not. They are useful and we can't do without them but I think we need to devise some strategies for keeping them at bay. Like switching them off (or not switching them on) more often and for longer periods. I know that people who study the brain are examining the issue of how our whole mode of thinking may be undergoing a transformation as a result of the formation of young minds especially by the net and it's a very important issue that could determine the whole future of literacy and intellectual culture. Meanwhile, here's an interesting discussion of the issue if you didn't see it.
Me, I'm off to Marrakesh for a week where I don't expect to take my laptop with me nor cross the threshold of an internet hubble-bubble café.