Greetings. As described in Jennifer Schuessler’s New York Times story “The Muses of Insert, Delete and Execute,” I am in the midst of researching and writing a book entitled Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. The book is under contract to Harvard University Press, and should be out in late 2013. You can listen to a talk I recently gave at the New York Public Library based on the first chapter, “Stephen King’s Wang,” here.
The book documents the moment at which large numbers of literary writers began making the transition from typewriters to word processors and personal computers (late 1970s, early 1980s). I want to know who the early adopters were, and how they thought about the new digital technology in relation to their writing practice. I am interested in both “highbrow” and popular authors alike, fiction and non-fiction. I am also following the story through to the present day: many writers now have platforms on social media like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
Some of my best information so far has come from word of mouth. That’s where I need your help. I would be very interested in hearing from:
- authors who were early adopters of computing and word prcocessing and/or social media (also authors who made a deliberate decision not to switch to a computer);
- editors, publishers, agents, and others in the business with relevant insights to contribute;
- technologists who worked on early word processing programs;
- anyone with relevant primary source materials to loan, share, or contribute;
- anyone who knows of interesting fictional renditions of computers and word processing (for example, King’s short story “Word Processor of the Gods”).
If you would like to offer information, anecdotes, corrections, or tips about things to look at or persons to contact, please write to me at mkirschenbaum at gmail dot com. Thank you for reading.