The Mac is DEFINITELY not a typewriter!!! No, really, I mean it!!!

I’ve been hearing about The Mac Is Not a Typewriter, by Robin Williams (no, not that Robin Williams), more or less since it came out in 1990, but I never got around to reading it until now. A quick look at the table of contents makes clear that I probably already know everything in it, but I figured it was worth a look anyway.

Somehow I was expecting that it would be sort of comforting and empowering in tone. I was not expecting it to be as, um, firmly opinionated as it is.

For example, the second section is about quotation marks. It starts out thusly:

Use real quotation marks—never those grotesque generic marks that actually symbolize inch or foot marks[…].

Grotesque! I never knew until now that straight-up-and-down quotation marks are grotesque!

And then Williams goes on to refer to

[…] the revolting " key […]

So not only is the mark itself grotesque, but the key that produces that mark is revolting! My goodness.

She later uses three exclamation marks and the word “always” in bold to inform readers about the dangers of putting an apostrophe in possessive its.

Anyway. I’m finding the strong prescriptivist absolutism kind of entertaining, but the book is not nearly as soothing as I was expecting.

Join the Conversation