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Over-processed words

The article "Complex Machines vs. the Writers' Art," Aug. 29, takes the words right out of my mouth, or at least right off my screen. I'm particularly suspicious about the much-celebrated proliferation of computers on college campuses. When I see students crowded together in warm computer labs trying to compose their papers, I wonder if the students are being served by the machines or to them. These word-processing factories, obviously designed to accommodate computer wiring rather than student writing, have replaced Thoreau's solitary cabin with what looks like an airline reservation center. In the pursuit of convenience and efficiency, we're unintentionally encouraging students to relinquish what writers have needed for centuries: a room of one's own. There is another problem with these machines. Back in the olden days (circa 1981) substantial revision was an annoying necessity because the first draft - hand-written or typed - was a chicken-scratched mess. But nowadays, pressured students punch out a first draft, press a button to correct their spelling, and presto - out comes a beautiful looking manuscript, no matter how carelessly composed. Colleges must more carefully consider the revolutionary effects of computers on students' writing and then use these machines to help their students write better rather than faster. Ron Charles, Elsah, Ill.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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