A Chinese Typewriter…

…in Silicon Valley. This is a ‘Google Tech Talk’ from the 5th December 2011 on ‘How Chinese Typists Invented ‘Predictive Text’ during the Height of Maoism’ (previously called ‘A Chinese Typewriter in Silicon Valley: What 150 Years of Chinese Information Technology can Teach the Alphabetic World’) presented by Stanford Professor Thomas S. Mullaney – he has a fantastic website by the way full of Chinese typewriter information resources. It was forwarded onto me by an academic friend as he knows my love of typewriters and current research in China (very Rachel appropriate right?) and it was definitely worth the hour-long watch. It asks questions such as ‘how to render the Chinese language compatible with a set of information technologies like the telegraph the typewriter and later forms that are closely connected to alphabets or more generally to languages with limited module be they alphabets or syllabaries…ultimately, is Chinese script compatible with modernity?’ He visually references the concocted idea of what a Chinese typewriter would look like and how the Chinese typewriter became an icon for those who stated “no Chinese script is not compatible with modernity”. ‘When I see the Chinese typewriter, I see a machine whose history is a repository of design inspiration…some of the most eccentric and brilliant innovation which never materialised into forms but some of the most penetrating analysis of human machine interaction and input and date structuring.’

In the same Chinese typewriter vein, I came across what is apparently the largest typewriter museum in China (Im assuming Western typewriters?). I have not had a chance to visit it yet but I already cannot wait. It is at the ‘Old York Art Space’, 248 Wuxing Lu near Jiangguo Xi Lu in Shanghai. I could only find a few images online by 阿卡♥Dannie of the place. I’m thinking of using it for the launch of the ‘Words are all we have’ book arts/typewriter project that I started this time last year…I am determined to finish this summer. I’m considering doing a second call out for contributors here in Shanghai as I think it might provide an alternative sub-narrative.  It is a pretty appropriate venue right? Time to re-start and re-fuel this project.

Image courtesy of 阿卡♥Dannie
Image courtesy of 阿卡♥Dannie

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