A history lesson from an old fogey 8 August 2012 – Posted in: Uncategorised

It’s probably a sign of old age that one is inclined to wander down memory lane, but sometimes perhaps it’s no harm. The photographs in this post remind us of how much has changed since Cois Life began publishing (in 1995), for they depict, gentle readers, ‘floppy disks’ – the medium on which authors used to supply the first copy of their work to us.

Here are photos of some of the early works we published and one which we worked on when we were involved in publishing books for the magazine Comhar. That last one An Peann Coitianta was published in 1991 and in those days we had to contend not alone with floppy disks but with having to book a few hours on ‘the’ computer. Younger readers of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their gaze as I impart the dread intelligence that in those days only a company might have a computer (if it were very ‘go-ahead’) – the idea that everybody would one day have a computer in their home seemed very far-fetched indeed.

From the start we were quite revolutionary in Cois Life in that we changed the traditional workflow and instead of marking up hard copy and handing the marked up copy (with all those old-fashioned squiggles – the examples below are from the Chicago Style Manual) we began the editing process on screen. Despite the fact that almost all first copies of a work ar now supplied by authors everywhere in electronic format the term ‘manuscript’ is still used for this first copy.

Of course, we’ve had many interesting experiences with authors down the years including one who supplied several hundred pages of his work in an electronic version which was utterly devoid of fadas, explaining in an aside that he “didn’t believe in them“!

Note how the disks boasted of their capacity – “1.44 MB” or “2 MB” when nowadays that wouldn’t even hold a single hi-res photo taken on a smartphone.

Looking at the ‘progress’ from the other end of the telescope, perhaps more democratic access to technology isn’t always advisable. Somehow I suspect I’m not the only one deafened by twitterings (ok, ‘tweets’), blue in the face with Facebook and desperate to unchain himself from LinkedIn. O Tempora, O Mores! (and now that I think of it I am absolutely sure that only a tiny handful of people will understand THAT nowadays! But then, that’s what Google is for, I suppose… )

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