Advancement has silenced cogwheels, mechanisms and scraping drive heads. A reflection in silence on the noise of the future resting in the far-away past.
I love the sound of switching my photo camera on or changing its mode of operation. I savour how technology responds in its own vernacular to my various intents. How shallow then the noiseless and thus tactless swipe across the camera’s touch-enabled screen to adjust the color balance. What an agent of significance we operators of technology once used to be!
The sensation of high-tech agency, the command over a technology, a piece of equipment that is coerced into service, has always enchanted mankind. Imagine the racket of the first train passing by. Or even the mill stone grinding grist: sound has always made technological agency as triggered by human operation a most graspable experience. Expert car mechanics and drivers, for instance, speak to their vehicles, in full perception of its multitude of noises, automotive savants translate into a meaningful transcript of vehicular performance. But for how long?
In computer science, the humming CTR screen powering up was shrouded in beguiling secrecy. For all its lack of cog wheels or any such raw instrument of action, the monitor maintained a sonorous presence throughout operation.
Although a computer’s main unit may have been limited to mirroring its user’s diligence through hectic clacks originating from its keyboard, the requirement to access and store data delighted the human operator.
Drive heads chiselled the user’s cognitive product in binary code onto a feeble magnetised disc. A red light affirmed this mighty exercise. The successful retrieval of the directory listing instilled pride in the user, whose work then resided on this plain disk until its magnetised surface eventually surrendered all data to oblivion.
What remains today is the human user. Shrouded in silence, but still diligent in her or his efforts. In possession, once again, of their minds and the capacity for crafting meaning out of the vacuum of noise.