Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Plus ca change – Non. Twenty years of a solstice letter.

I’ve been writing a “solstice letter” for over 20 years.

During that interval a few things have changed. The first letter would have been written with WordPerfect 3 on a Panasonic* 8086 with a 20MB hard drive. Today my local storage total is roughly 2TB, or about 100,000 times larger. I had email then; I used Norton Commander’s superb MCIMail client with MCI’s pre-internet modem-based mail service. Today I use Gmail.

Oh, and now we have the web.

I’m more interested, however, in what’s not changed. After many years of experimentation I’m back to authoring in a word Processor (Word:Mac) and distributing as a PDF from one of my personal servers. I’d love to have a great web based authoring solution, but there isn’t one. I’d love to have a universal open file format, but there isn’t one.

In this area, progress is only measurable by microscope.

* The most over-engineered device I’ve every purchased. You could park a car on it. Panasonic was threatening to wipe out Compaq in those days, until Congress intervened to block Japanese computer exports. That “saved” US computer manufacturing until Taiwan took it away, and forced Japanese manufacturers to focus on laptops. Adjusting grossly for inflation, it was cheaper than a comparably “higher end” machine would be today. But I digress …

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