The Typewriter Revolution: A Book Review

By David Michael Newstead.

The Typewriter Revolution is an information packed handbook that chronicles the rise of the typewriter, its near extinction, and trendy resurgence today. According to author Richard Polt, people are embracing typewriters again for reasons that range from digital detox to recapturing the lost art of writing letters, from zines and street poetry to countering government surveillance. Moreover, these classic machines are tactile and distraction free. They’re disconnected from the internet in perhaps an overly connected world. And in The Typewriter Revolution, that makes using typewriters almost a form of meditation as well as an act of rebellion.

Here’s an excerpt:

We make things so efficiently that they’re all disposable; none of them endure, none can belong to us for long before they end up on the scrap heap. We process information so efficiently that we don’t dwell on thoughts and words anymore – we flit incoherently from one set of distractions to the next.

The author goes on to write:

The insurgency doesn’t ask us to smash our digital devices. Instead, it helps us to keep them in perspective and invites us to question our assumptions about progress. It may seem like the only way to look to the future is to generate and gobble up brand new information, joining in the chaos updates, posts, and tweets. But most of that noise is an empty echo, and the busiest participants are just running in place. No, it’s in the quiet places and idle moments that the seeds of something truly new are being planted. When we typists use our “things of the past,” we’re opening up a space where we can take our time and make messages that will last. When we write our stories by typewriter, we’re typing the future.

Like vinyl records, typewriters have found their way into many people’s hearts even when more high-tech alternatives are available. There’s just a certain character and an authenticity to them that this week’s latest device will always lack. And perhaps the author is right. Maybe we should take a step back from being constantly connected, choosing to live more purposefully, and reflecting on what matters the most. It’s also very hard to imagine greats like Hunter S. Thompson or Ernest Hemingway ever using a laptop. One writer featured in the book put it this way: As long as people are reading, someone’s going to have to write, and writers want typewriters.

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Podcast Recap

By David Michael Newstead.

Earlier this year, I started a podcast and here are a few initial posts for your listening pleasure.

Politics and Social Media – In this podcast, I sit down with social media expert Alan Rosenblatt for an in-depth discussion on the impact of social media in the presidential election and why 2016 might be a watershed year.

Discussing Safe Bars at a Bar – In this podcast, I’m joined by Jessica Raven from Collective Action for Safe Spaces and Lauren Taylor from Defend Yourself to discuss the Safe Bars initiative and the importance of bystander intervention in countering sexual harassment in public. To learn more and to stay up-to-date on certified Safe Bars in the D.C. area, check out the new Safe Bars Website.

Quantified Happy Memory Project – I presented at DC’s Quantified Self Meetup, detailing a project I’ve been working on in my free time. I spent a year creating a list of every happy memory I could think of, then analyzed the information for greater self-knowledge and personal reflection.

The Greek and the Greek American – I sit down with a Greek immigrant and a Greek American to learn about the importance of their connections to Greek culture, different sides of the immigrant experience, and their views on the pivotal issues affecting Greece today.

Podcast: Networking, Professionalism, and Gender – Maria discusses gender differences in networking and professionalism in our nation’s capital.

Listen More Here

Masculinity Isn’t Misogyny

By David Michael Newstead.

This was originally posted on Fem2pt0. Learn More.

Somewhere along the way American politics got very confused about manhood. And if you didn’t know any better, you might think that rabid misogyny is one of the pillars of being a man.

It’s not.

On one level, the phenomenon that we’re watching take place is about Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton and all the social tensions that are exposed by that kind of match-up. But this is also larger than just Election 2016. With growing intensity over the years, women have basically become scapegoats in America. And it seems no course of action they take is free from intense political criticism at the national level: when they seek public office, when they collect welfare checks for their family, when they try advancing in the business world, when they star in movie remakes, when they want sex, and when they don’t want sex. From Welfare Reform in the 1990s to Sandra Fluke’s views on contraception and beyond, it’s possible to see just how much progress we have not made when we’re talking about women.

That’s not to say that men have to agree with women on every issue, but you can disagree without being disagreeable and that’s probably manlier than being a chauvinist. Fortunately for all of us, this involves guys getting back to basics rather than them doing something totally new. Years ago, Frank Sinatra put it this way:

I may sound old-fashioned, but I want to think all women should be treated like I want my wife, daughters, and granddaughters to be treated. I notice today that good manners – like standing up when a woman enters the room, helping a woman on with her coat, letting her enter an elevator first, taking her arm to cross the street – are sometimes considered unnecessary or a throwback. These are habits I could never break, nor would I want to. I realize today a lot more women are taking care of themselves than in the past. But no woman is offended by politeness.

The fact is being a man has a lot of positive traits and includes substantive contributions to society like fatherhood, friendship, and being a mentor. But collective hostility towards women is not on that list. Meaning that men who act that way are deviations from and not the epitome of manhood. In their bizarro version of being a man, women are to be scrutinized and ridiculed at every turn for their private lives and their professional decisions. But far from making someone a standard-bearer of strength and masculinity, this reveals so much lack of character it’s insane! It’s also worth pointing out that these can’t possibly be the most secure among us if they harass women online or eagerly wait for them to fail. It just doesn’t sound like someone who’s brimming with confidence.

The trouble is men as a group are being defined by a vocal and hotheaded minority that’s stuck in the worst parts of the past. In modern America, I think we need the chivalry that Frank Sinatra was talking about as well as the clear understanding that we’re not that different from each other. And if guys are all trying to be this strong, confident pinnacle of manliness that starts with not tearing other people down.