THERE was a time when “middle-aged techie” was an oxymoron.

Three-time Don Carlos Palanca award winner Jessica Zafra shows the readers the face of the comfortable future in the latest installment of her Twisted series, Twisted 8 ½ (Anvil Publishing Inc., 2009). With twenty-seven essays that describe how technology has shaped the mindset of today’s society, Twisted 8 ½ uses the experiences of the author to show how “Generation X” has been so different from the generation of her teens and twenties.

In “Life before Google,” Zafra compares the feeling of writing a thesis using old typewriters during their time with today’s computers, which delete mistakes just by hitting the “backspace” key. She describes the computer keyboard as something that “did not require you to pound on key.”

But according to her, it’s not just the device that makes it convenient for the present generation to do their work. Zafra described her experience of acquiring data as “consulting a dusty cabinet of drawers, containing yellowing index cards,” a far cry from data that youth today obtain with just a “mouse click.”

If not for the essay’s indifferent tone used in explaining the beginning of computers, it would have given a clear picture of the gap between the author’s technological culture, and the advancements enjoyed by the present society.

“Romance vs.Democracy” is all about the camera and the subtext of each of its different kinds and usage.

The essay contains a lot of digression, but also delves into details about manual and digital cameras, and how they give a picture of a twisted progression of technology when it comes to a materialistic mindset—from an instrument of self-expression to just a “point and shoot” gadget.

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Worse case is when technology is seen as an instrument of immorality in “How not to be in a sex scandal,” which highlights the dangers of being knowledgeable of data storage and deletion.

Despite the ease on disseminating information through the Internet and network file sharing, Zafra sets a limit in using technology by emphasizing quality and efficient use of gadgets to help compliment people’s work.

In “How not to be in a sex scandal,” she illustrates how technology become human beings who are innately relational that everything they see they must show to his fellow “human being” who are infallible witnesses.

The author’s pieces of advice in the essay can be easily understood.

One gets the impression that the writer is only talking to people who are naturally incompetent with computers. This is to be expected, since Zafra is a writer who employs humor.

Data storage is highlighted more in “Memory is Cheap,” where the author talks of the speed of advancement in storage, and how backups are easily created between 14-megabyte diskettes and one-terabyte hard drives.

The author’s awe on the emergence of large and more advanced storage systems is shown by how she describes hard drives, and her fascination by naming hers “Rham”—a symbol of how technology is slowly becoming human beings.

Twisted 8 ½ is a compilation of opinions of a woman who, on the surface, lets her cynicism dominate her impression of technology. But as a person who relies on technology to ease her literate life, one can expect unbiased descriptions of modernity from zafra.

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Youth vote

Twisted 8 ½ is proof of how technology can either be your friend or enemy. But in order to befriend the world of advanced technology, in the words of Zafra, “it is a good time in history to be geek.” Robin G. Padilla

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