In a lonely place

TextWrangler, my favourite writing-very-fast application, has been improved, with predictable results. The 4.0 version now has features I don't need, runs just that little bit slower and has a bona fide bug: the backspace / delete key sometimes doesn't work (not a hardware problem: I can't reproduce the fault in other applications). How I would like to not be thinking about this, or writing about it, or tooling around the web looking for an old installer for TextWrangler 3.5.3.

Woody Allen still writes on the same typewriter he bought when he was a young man. The 35mm cameras I bought when I was my teens still take better photos than my digital camera or for that matter my phone. I gave up my last Powerbook after a long hard seven years because the screen was so dim it was like typing on a winter night but the machine still works just fine. In fact, the old TextWrangler is on it, so thinking about it, I can simply copy the old software over to the new Mac (MBA 11", a lovely writing machine which I would also be happy to use for the next seven years, or twelve for that matter). Where would I be had I not taken the old man's caution of putting things aside, just in case?

This week I spent a day fixing those groovy Blogger redirects (see previously) and another few hours cursing Google, which now delivers search results in a way that is thwartingly local. If you're looking up something on Google maps in Indonesia in English, it shows you the map labelled in Thai. But if you're in Australia when you type in a search for something in America, you get Australian site results first, whether you ask for them or not. There is a way around the latter -- utterly unintuitive -- and probably for the former, but how I would like to not be thinking about that as well.

By pressing personalisation "services" on users Google is contributing to what one commentator has called the cableisation of the internet: the reduction of the universal set of content into a localised subset shaped by fear and commercial interest. Goodbye World Wide Web, hello My Little Corner. The concept of a walled garden was once pejorative but now we're filtering on Facebook and burning through the world on Twitter 140 characters at a time like a chain smoker stubbing out half-finished cigarettes the idea seems less threatening, if not attractive.

I don't need the web to find out what I already know. If it's online I'm grown-up enough to look at it. I want my laptop to work like a typewriter and my phone to work like a phone and my camera to have shutter speed and aperture and focus: if I need to get closer to the subject I can walk there. I would just like things to function. And I would like to not be thinking about this. The only reason I am is that there's writing I need to get done. Whatever happened to welcome distractions?

Postscript: TextWrangler 3.5.3 reinstalled. Finally. You can go back to it here.