Saturday, March 17, 2012

Typecast: A Great Feeling


  1. I feel much the same.

    I do not, or have yet to fall for the global warming. It'd take more than the comment space for my thoughts on that. I too wonder constantly about the food, mostly the safety of the food and with what it was treated. Clothing at one time was made by children, then I remember the many women who worked numerous textile and clothing factories in our small town ( I know there were many many times more in New England and the mills of the South), I have steadily observed the decline of the European nations and the USA. Perhaps all the countries need more statesman and people who care about the good of all and not politicians and those more worried about re-election and special interest agendas and their own money ( or should I say attaining more money for themselves and to _______ with everyone else) I better quit before I get on political tirade.

    I can put that on my blog.
    I think the frustration with world things is why I like the typosphere and reading everyone's blogs. It is also why I like typing and tinkering with typewriters that need repaired.

    And to end with Apple. I truly like their products and prefer them over the others. I use them. I do not buy their products or the $ company's from Redmond because of their over inflated prices and how they make the products.

    Typewriters Rule.

    1. Something I forgot in my overly long reply .. Foxconn, being one of the competitors of 2 of the companies where I previously worked has never been a company I liked. Not only do they undercut every one on prices, the quality is next to the lowest possible and the way they treat their employees!!! What was on This American Live was an improvement of employee treatment of several hundred times what it was in the 1980s.

    2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Bill. Indeed, it is demoralizing to observe how overrun the shops are with foreign-made goods, cheaply-made and virtually disposable. I don't go shopping often and usually manage to stay clear of electronics shops especially, so every time I end up in one I am newly taken aback. It is hard to believe even the simplest of items and trinkets - cannot somehow be made locally. How lovely to pick up a miniature Eiffel Tower in Paris... only to discover the "Made in China" label on the bottom.

  2. Well put, Adwoa, particularly on the privacy issues.

    Exploitation of labor has been around since before the pyramids, and of course conditions in the typical Western factory before many labor laws were passed, or even after, were no better than those in China today. In the '30s, there were several strikes at Remington, and apparently the company crushed them by any means necessary. The company that stands out for its great treatment of workers is Olivetti; former Olivetti typewriter factory workers in several countries have active associations today and fondly remember their years there.

    By the way, This American Life has just announced that some of the Foxconn story they aired was invented by the author -- which doesn't mean that I'd want to work there!

    1. I listened to some of today's This American Life, which was devoted completely to the tale of how they ended up running Mike Daisey's partially false story on the Apple factories. Today's episode is quite riveting in itself. They ask Daisey point-blank why he lied, and it is fascinating to listen to the silence as he tries to come up with ways to find ambiguity in the situation. He doesn't seem to understand that by fabricating elements of his story he called the whole narrative into question and ended up potentially harming the people he was trying to help.

    2. Thanks for the comments, Richard. Now I cannot wait to hear this week's episode of This American Life (via podcast) after your excellent summary! It is a shame that Daisey felt the need to make up parts of his story - the enduring image from that first episode was when he described droves of workers walking up to him and telling him about their experiences and injuries. And to learn that was all fiction really lessens the impact of the message, even though there was some truth mixed in.

      Interesting info re: the strikes at Remington; I had not heard of those! Yes, the Olivettis were quite the philanthropists and social activists, thankfully.

  3. Adwoa, thanks for this well-written piece, your views certainly resonate with mine. And I have to say, I really enjoyed your anecdote on how you responded to your colleague's puzzlement on your Hermes Media 3 rescue operation; you non-verbally retorted, "Take that!"

    Richard, thanks for the info on Olivetti's fair labor practices... now I've found even greater validation for my love of Olivettis!

    1. As Teeritz puts it in his comment, there are not many products with "numerous moving parts and intricate machinery" that continue to work quite so well several decades after their manufacture, so it was completely satisfying on every level to bring the rescued Hermes Media 3 back to life - even more so for the benefit of a doubting observer!

  4. Your very provocative post reminds me why I enjoy browsing thrift stores so much: possibly finding an object that is
    1. vintage (historical)
    2. well-made
    3. worth saving from a land-fill
    4. inexpensive
    5. avoid supporting the "modern" wastefulness of consumerism

    This applies to ANY object found at a thrift store -- not just typewriters.

    Just the other day I found a Dymo-Tape labeler, solid chrome-plated metal, top-of-the-line at the time -- and am THRILLED with it. Even came with a large roll of red tape. Cost: $3.

    1. "Top-of-the-line at the time"... that says it all. What a thrill to acquire such an item for a song, be it a typewriter or another piece of fine workmanship. I am envious of your Dymo-Tape labeler and will see if there is a similar item to be found locally during my thrifting trips!

  5. There'a certain nobility about a product that can still be used 50+ years after it was built. I'm not talking about hammers or cocktail shakers, but about products with numerous moving parts and intricate machinery. I suppose that's what first attracted me to wristwatches and later to typewriters. And if I could afford it, I'd probably be driving a 1947 Plymouth or something like that. But then, I tend to wear a fedora in winter and I'd probably look a little too eccentric stepping out of some '40s sedan and putting my hat on.
    Anyway, it seems obvious that manufacturers today have placed profit at the top of their list and customer satisfaction is now somewhere near the bottom. I can only imagine that typewriter companies were more concerned with the "built-to-last" nature of their products, as were many companies of the past.
    I like the fact that we all use these mechanical contraptions to communicate our thoughts, opinions, quirks and even embarrassments throughout the typosphere.
    Somehow, I doubt that, 20 years from now, there will be a community of folks blogging on vintage laptops and computers, reminiscing about Mac Classics and Toshiba Tecras.
    Yes, I know that these types of bloggers already exist now, but I think that in a few decades, if they are still blogging on their antique computers, the rooms they sit in will be consumed with the smell of over-heating plastic. That is something that will not happen to a blogger in the typosphere.
    Type on, people!

    Fantastic post, Adwoa! A sombre reminder of how what we eat, wear or use has more than just a monetary cost attached to it.

    1. Thanks, Teeritz, you picked up on exactly what I was trying to say and expanded on it. I was trying to think the other day of how many (mechanical) items of that age will continue to work well with proper use and care: typewriters, sewing machines, cars, bikes, clocks & watches...

      Typewriters have a survival advantage because they are not in continuous use, unlike clocks and watches. The amazing thing is that they can be left for years unused and spring back to life almost instantly... I doubt the same will be said of vintage laptops and computers!

  6. "It's hard to feel good about purchasing anything these days." That really says it all, doesn't it?
    Wonderful post!


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