How Technology is Changing the World–No Oxford Comma???

I’m drinking coffee and reviewing social media. I love when there’s an honest to goodness conversation unfolding on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t get those deep conversations in person as much anymore–the “college type” where we sat all night putting off papers some grad assistant from another country would be forced to read while we discussed the deeper meaning of life–talking about things that mattered, building relationships that still remain. The types of conversations I have with my lifelong friend, who suffers from the same “mental chaos” that I have, where seven conversations swirl around at once, no one single thread emerging, all mysteries until each of them resolve like a manuscript of short stories which got tossed on the floor and then reordered.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.42.48 AMThis morning’s social media had two excellent conversations. The first one was about grammar. I posted an article by way of apology to my famous sister (she is the Mary Casey of this brief) on the issue of spacing after a period. She has repeatedly reminded me to use only one space typing at the end of a sentence. Am I that big a nerd that I can bring out ten or so of the biggest grammar guns on two coasts to discuss whether we should have one or two spaces after a period, and whether the Oxford comma should still be in use? I believe that I am. Writers, Ivy Leaguers and innovators all discussing a space at the end of the sentence. That’s deep. Cliff Clavin just called to congratulate me.

The second conversation was my friend’s “Should I change my Twitter handle?” I never cared about such things before–I came into the Twittersphere late, but now that I’m here nothing impresses me more than someone whose handle is their initials. Or better yet, one letter.  Wow, you really are a “g.” Or @G to be more precise.  Amazing.

That’s almost like the fight over license plates in the State of Rhode Island. The first time I went to the RI DMV, the person said, “Honey, what initials would you like?” What plate would I like? The one you give me, I guess.  Turns out in Rhode Islanders must have their initials. People pass down low-numbered and initialed plates in their wills. No joke. There were no “DC’s” available. She was waiting for my panic. Because she was the only DMV person who ever cared about my feelings, I gave her an answer. “I’ll take OM.”  Ohm wasn’t in my name, but I figured I’d at least get some good driving karma.

I bet Rhode Islanders would be good on Twitter. It’s a small state; we can fit it in 140 characters or less.

Technology has changed so much of what I do and the process in which I do it.  I can’t even make a phone call anymore. I was needed on a phone call one day. “I’ll put you in his calendar.” I counter-offered. “How about you tell him to call me, and when he calls…I’ll answer.”  Laughter on the other end. Hysterical laughter. Watching Louis CK after a couple of beers laughter.

The world is changing. No Oxford comma? No double space? No simple phone call? I am a history person by trade–Maybe the world of education really is that far behind. I sought out my college friend Heather to investigate. When you’re friends with someone for so long, they’ll tell you the truth. “Oh, Dawn…you are so, not…corporate.  Of course you need to calendar in a phone call.”

But I was “corporate.” I used to call attorneys on a regular basis and negotiate stuff. If I didn’t like the person, I’d wait till I knew they were out and info-bomb their voicemail. That’s what email does for us today–cuts out the pleasantries, I guess.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.45.45 AMAnd so, I’ve gone to the Other Side.  I just calendared in a phone call for later today, filed emails in several boxes in accordance with their importance, and am resolving two tasks from my pop-up reminder list. I guess it’s nice that Google and my iPhone combine forces to deal with my “mental chaos” and chime me into a state of obedient productivity.

And it’s definitely good that the world of education is catching up–tomorrow, I’m going to go on a site visit to a really progressive school to get some inspiration. I know this, because my calendar just chimed in to remind me.

But I will not, I repeat, will not–give up my Oxford comma.

[Image: and]


11 thoughts on “How Technology is Changing the World–No Oxford Comma???

  1. I’ve given up the double space after the period. Now, when I see it, I look to see if the text has been justified because it looks funny. And I’ve also given up the Oxford comma in the interest of aesthetics. I saw an interview with Cormac McCarthy regarding his position on not using punctuation that just about sent my brain into seizures, so I’m okay with leaving out a comma.

    • I have a difficult time changing my typing, given its speed. I would have to deprogram myself for an entire week of typing. I’m wondering, in this age of “anything goes” whether I can get away with it.

      • I have seen entire blogs posts with nary a capital letter or punctuation mark in sight. I quickly look away. I’m guessing you can get away with quite a bit. Apparently individualism has extended to writing your own rules for the English language.

  2. I love this, being close to 50 I have experienced lots of changes in a short time, and embraced them. Some of my colleagues are in their early 20’s so they laugh when we discuss things like cassette tapes and VHS…

      • haha when I did my Photojournalism course I had to buy a word processor typewriter (pre 486 era)…and when I was growing up we had a stock standard one. Only good for boat anchors now. Though I read somewhere some authors still use them!

      • I had the same style Royal that Hemingway used, I later discovered. My mom tossed it. Then I got an IBM Selectric. College had macs but nerds were always playing games on them.

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