This evening I was trying to type the name of some company into the notepad on my iPod. The infernal device kept “correcting” me and it took five or six tries to get it to finally accept the word I was trying to input.
Quite some time ago I learned to type on my sister’s Olympia manual typewriter. It was a purely mechanical contraption with no brain of its own; the user was expected to have one of those. Today I do most of my typing in a text editor – Notepad++ in Windows and Gedit in Linux. They’re simple and powerful; an improvement on a typewriter instead of a bastardization of it.
After I got home it occurred to me that “auto-correct” in one form or another is woven into the fabric of our culture – so completely that it is nearly impossible to speak of some things, and correspondingly difficult to think clearly or dispassionately about them. Mostly those things are ideas that would interfere with the way things are now. You might not think the lack of something could be a solid barrier, but lack of imagination certainly can block thought.
Auto-correct is learned early, in school, as a way of keeping us away from the unfamiliar.
Back when one of my sons was in about the fourth grade, a student teacher asked him what book he had just read. “Dolphin Island”, he said.
“Oh, did you mean; Island of the Blue Dolphins?”, asked the teacher.
“No, I meant Dolphin Island,” said my son.
“I think the title is Island of the Blue Dolphins”, said the teacher.
(This actually went on for a while. I think MrsDoF had to call the student teacher and inform her that there are more books with “dolphin” in the title than just the one she had heard of. And that a fourth-grader might actually read one of them.)
Maybe this is why I get so furious when a machine “corrects” my typing. I like my misspellings and malapropisms, thank you very much. They’re mine, so back off.
And in any case, my son was right; he had read Dolphin Island.