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Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club

People who hate technology fascinate me. They fascinate me even more than people who dislike me for not only working with technology but also trying to help them get over their fear of it so that they might be able to use to to help themselves do whatever they are doing. Not everyone needs to use technology, but for the people who do need to use it, for whatever reason, they may as well not hate it. This book is a collection of essays [called testimonies] and cartoons and other materials from the ad hoc Lead Pencil Club who arrived on the scene at about the same time as the graphical web browser. The people who are at the core group issued a manifesto that became briefly popular. Opting to use pencils for communication rather than email and the PC, they espouse the virtues of the tech-free world and decry, at various different levels of desparation, the evils of technology. This is not a club with members, they do not have an overarching platform. Some of them are technophobes, some of them have computers and dislike the lack of community they can inspire. Others can’t even type. Some of them brag about not being able to even use an answering machine.

To me, hating technology is sort of like hating water. It exists and you may get into trouble one day if you really truly don’t know how to work with it. Otherwise, it’s your choice how much you want to stay around it. Many of these people just seem like jackasses to me. They explain how their computer crashes all the time and then draw the conclusion that computers are hard and they hate them. Or they come up with all these horrific future scenarios based on articles they read in Omni magazine. Then again, there are other folks who don’t need to use computers and don’t care to. They argue that computers and the Internet are causing our society to become more fragmented, less community-oriented and more consumer driven, more haves vs. have-nots. I have no quibble with them. This book has some smart people writing articles [Neil Postman comes to mind] and some people who probably can’t even use their can opener. It’s a motley bunch and more often than not, i wondered to myself what they were doing now.