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Rebuttal from the next generation: get a life or a hard-hat.

I have this warm picture in my head of my father, circa 1960 -- hunkered down over his manual typewriter, the sweat pouring down his face illuminated by the light of the kerosene lamp....

No wonder you weren't home a lot when I was growing up, Dad, the writing you describe probably took up 18 hours a day.

As a member of the "computer babies" generation, I can't imagine expending that kind of energy on what is a sedentary, solitary occupation.

So, if you're looking for a vocation that provides an aerobic workout and gets your clothes dirty, might I respectfully suggest construction. Not only does it meet those requirements, you also get to wear a near hat. Plus wardrobe expenditures tend to go down.

And, if you miss those days of drawing road maps in red ink, the folks at Rand McNally could use some help these days (though they might prefer that you use a pencil).

Today, the computer is an essential part of writing -- replacing the pencil, typewriter, red pen and carbon paper in one swoop. I haven't used a typewriter for anything but an envelope in the past five years.

Yes, there are some detractors who believe that computers encourage mediocre writing, that the easier it is to put your thoughts down, the shallower those thoughts must be. To those, may I deferentially remind you: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

On my worst days as a writer, I never killed a tree.

Instead, my first draft is also my last, as I can insert, delete, and move words and paragraphs all over any given document. And then I can e-mail that document to my boss, who inserts his own words and deletes many of mine. There are no proofreader's marks to decode, no lines to follow, no handwriting to decipher. Just one clean copy, ready to go. Remember the dream of the paperless office? This is progress.

I admit, I use my computer to check my spelling and word usage. In fact, I've used the "Spell" and "Thesaurus" keys on this piece almost 10 times already -- and I'm not even finished yet. It's no different than looking the words up in the dictionary or thesaurus, and I need those volumes to act as book-ends.

I have high hopes for the next generation of technology. Maybe someone will come out with a program that checks the news value of press releases. You'll run the program on a release and get a number back: One meaning the New York Times will call immediately, 10 meaning even your mother would put it in the circular file.

Dad, good luck with your manual typewriter. You may not have to worry about your hard drive crashing again, but stock up on the Wite-Out. You'll need it.

Can I borrow the keys to your laser printer?

Al Wann, a former IABC chairman, has seen a lot of technology come and go in more than 20 years with the AT&T public relations division. Jami Deise, 24, his daughter, is public relations coordinator for the American Electronics Association in Washington, D.C.
COPYRIGHT 1992 International Association of Business Communicators
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Section 3: Communication in Transition - From Art to Science
Author:Deise, Jami W.
Publication:Communication World
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:High-tech makes weak writers.
Next Article:Communication in a world-class world.

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