Published 11:17 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The year is 2075. You are on tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as the guide is speaking:

“And over here is an apparatus once used by those of all ages. You will notice its unique design fashioned specifically to be held by human hands. It was generally about seven inches long having a hexagonal shape.

A slender dark column of substance known as “lead” passed completely through the middle of the device. This substance had the capacity, when rubbed along a surface, to leave a mark.

“Why would someone want to leave a mark?” someone asks.

“In those days, people would actually write the letters and words on paper in order to communicate with other individuals.”

“Why would someone spend that much time to communicate?” someone asks.

“For some reason, people enjoyed the penning of their own words towards another. It seems the whole activity of picking up such a device and personally writing to someone else carried a special significance. The writers themselves developed their unique way of forming the letters and were known specifically by their own “handwriting.” Those receiving the letters suggested that receiving a message in such manner carried special significance. It seems the actual touching and feeling of the letter spoke to its recipient in a way we cannot relate to today.

“Wasn’t that time consuming?” someone asks.

“Of course. Our advances today have made such cumbersome procedures obsolete. Historians tell us that such a way of communicating could take from two to five days depending on the distance, as compared to our milliseconds today. Believe it or not, authors would write entire books using this tool.”

“What if they made a mistake?” someone asks.

“Good question. Notice the soft, pink cylinder attached to the top. When placed against the mark and rubbed briskly, it was able to somewhat remove the mark to replace with the correct one. Of course, the whole device must be turned upside down, used in such manner, and flipped back to use again.

“Whew” was the collective reaction of the tourist as they reflected on the once tedious task of communicating.

“Are there anymore questions?” someone asks.

There being none, the guide moved to the next exhibit encased in glass.

“Here, also, is another object that fell victim to our better technological advances. It was known as a “book.”