There’s a very long history of memoirs about reading and literacy. Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory is one of the signature works in my own life on this theme, but there are a bunch of others. Before I entered administration I was pondering an essay on this theme as a particular sub-genre. The tale of awakening to words, of becoming so absorbed by stories that you no longer had time for friends, or that books became your friends, your parents worry, the suspicion that there is something wrong with you, the thrill of finding the one or two other people in your adolescence who can share a love for the printed page.
There’s a nice entry on Digital Literacy over at ivry twr that has some of the same features, and I realized I wasn’t really familiar with stories of coming to digital literacy in quite the same way.
Are there other such stories out there? Are the memories of our engagement with screen and keyboard a literary sub-genre? I’m actually truly intrigued and interested, so if you can point me to them I’d love to have a look.
A short excerpt from the post:
I still remember my grandfather’s first computer. It was a Pentium 486 that ran Windows 3.1. Murmurs in the family said that he paid nearly $3000 for it. My grandfather has (and continues to be) someone who enjoys the latest and greatest gadgets. We visited my grandparents regularly and I was allowed largely unsupervised time with the computer. I quickly discovered a number of computer games on his hard drive and from that point on all my memories of that computer revolve around Wolfenstein 3D and Cosmo.
My first experience with the internet didn’t come for a few more years. One day my uncle was visiting with his company laptop. He told my parents about something called the internet that would let you search for anything. He plugged his laptop into our phone line and before long we were online.
My family sat me down in front of it and told me to search for something. Being around 10 or 11 at the time, I searched for “toys.” Some things about the internet never change. Instead of the Transformers or Lego that I was expecting, I was greeted with page after page of every sex toy imaginable. My parents quickly closed the laptop.