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What does it mean to join the typosphere?

Before the Internet, if you wanted to publish your thoughts you wrote a letter to the editor, or else you edited a newsletter. In my college days, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I joined countless student newspapers, working variously as a writer and an editor. Outfitted with a Mac and an ink-jet printer, I became a publisher, weekly producing broadsheets and standing in student quads, handing my work to any obliging hand.

In my own small way, I had joined a sacred profession, publishing, becoming a proclaimer of the written word. Like Benjamin Franklin and countless others before me, I possessed ideas (of varying quality) and the means to express them. And so I stood not upon a soapbox, but upon a podium.

Arranging my thoughts biographically, I note that, at first, the media I employed was primitive: crayons, finger paint, printed letters upon ruled paper. As I grew, I embraced adult forms of expression: essays, poetry, and letters. (Occasionally, I even produced audio programs on a small Panasonic tape recorder my father owned — these were mostly private works.) In my teens, I found the typewriter — the personal printing press. Had I been born in an earlier age, the typewriter would have become my principal means of expression throughout my life. But I was born in the digital age, and the typewriter was very quickly superseded by the computer, and printed pages by screens on countless devices. Only lately have I, after years of longing, returned to the typewriter, and now mostly as a hobby.

Compulsively, whenever I want to express myself, I begin a blog. At this present moment, I am running six blogs, with focuses so narrow that only a few people ever visit them. (Some of my blogs, however, do receive significant traffic, but what does this signify?) Recently, I started this blog. Does this mean I’ve joined the “typosphere”? Have I become part of a movement? Or is the typosphere something that simply exists?

Surveying the vast field of typewriter blogs, here is what I have noticed:

  • Typospherians sometimes use their typewriters to compose entries and post jpegs of those compositions to their blogs
  • Typospherians write about recent acquisitions
  • Typospherians sometimes use their blogs to express ideas beyond the immediate scope of the typosphere
  • There are an abundance of typospherians in the typosphere
  • Some typosphereians are very humorous, or witty, or profound

I wonder if the typosphere exists because people long to disconnect from the busyness of the digital age. If so, they haven’t striven for much separation. Perhaps there are “typospherians” who have disconnected entirely, publishing their thoughts in printed journals. I must admit, I find this appealing, but I cannot help but publish wherever I can. If smoke signals or carrier pigeons were accepted forms of communication, I’d have fires burning and pigeons cooing in lofts. Whatever the case, the typing most go on.

© 2013, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Richard P March 9, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Great questions.

    I was not paying much atteniton during the first few years of the typosphere. Maybe some long-running typospherians will comment. But since 2010 I have really enjoyed participating in this space/movement/affiliation. For me, typecasting is an important part of it. I can turn away from the digital, compose something there, then return to the digital world to share it with a very diverse group of fellow typewriter lovers. Turning away from the computer for even a short session helps to provide perspective.

  • Mike Speegle March 11, 2013, 3:13 am

    Hear hear! And let it be known for all time that a person included me – however obliquely – in a group of persons bearing the appellation “witty or profound.”

    Also, loved the line “not upon a soapbox, but upon a podium.” Well said.

  • Scott September 15, 2022, 1:50 am

    In the days before Internet, the Writer’s Market published scads of backroom publishers. Some were better than other, but they redefined the word FUN. They vanished when the Internet came along. I miss them. We could do it again with misspellings and typo. Perfection is for editors.

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