These machines were discontinued in September 2013, and have become something of a collector’s item for writers and typewriter enthusiasts. My Dana is superior to other models, because it has the largest screen. I am able to view nine lines of text at any given time. This comes in handy when you return to a document mid-project, and need to remind yourself what it is you were working on.
I love this item for its simplicity. For collectors, this much is understood: the lack of features has become the Dana’s main feature. The Dana is a retreat from the constant bombardment of the internet. What outsiders don’t always understand is why I stop at such a recent machine. I ought to push further back in time. “If you want to be simple, use an old-fashioned pen and paper.” Ah, but that won’t do. I’m an excellent typist, and I work faster with a keyboard. Writing by hand takes long enough that I lose track of the thought just as soon as I’ve written the beginning. “A typewriter, then.” Typewriters are beautiful objects, but impractical. Both the notebook and the typewriter create one copy of what’s been written. At most, a typewriter can create a handful of copies using carbon paper, and those copies are nearly impossible to edit or change. The Dana produces a digital file which can then be exported to a laptop when you’re ready to face the chaos of digital life, which is inevitably necessary. The Dana is no good for revising or proofreading. You cannot effectively cut or paste. Changing fonts or margins is irrelevant. And anyway, someday I might need to email the document I’ve made. Somebody might want to see that file I worked up. The internet has a time and place.
I understand the impracticality of my word processing machine. It’s unromantic, they’re clunky. But I feel as if I cannot string together a coherent thought when I am using a computer. It’s the same reason I print out word documents that have been emailed to me, despite feeling guilty over wasted paper. I can’t get my eyes to focus, and I can’t get my mind to quiet. There’s too much stimulus and not enough contemplation. That’s the trouble I have. Any thought worth communicating needs some space for exploration. I need to not have a notification pop up on my screen. I need to not have the temptation of looking to see if I have a notification on my screen. I need to sit with my Dana and type down my thoughts.
For me, there was a technological sweet spot, a time where life was made easier, but not louder. The Dana allows me to travel back to that time, and then travel forward again when I need to function in a world where everybody else can move at lightning speed.
How can we, as artists, use technology to stimulate creativity, instead of stifling it?
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