Who Knows More: Steve Jobs or Woody Allen?

Jul 22, 10 | 7:55 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Woody Allen doesn’t use a computer. This doesn’t seem credible. But in a brief interview in yesterday's New York Times, Woody points this out and then says, bolstering his I-know-nothing-about-any-of-this-including-the-most-basic-terminology bona fides, that he doesn’t use a word processor either, as though people still do.

For many years, Woody has had a correspondence—a you-write-me-letters-and-a-few-weeks-later-I-write-you-back correspondence—with a friend of mine and, on occasion, I’ve been able to examine the paper and his typewriter’s impression. I always thought this was a conceit instead of someone actually living in another world.

He has, he says, with a kind of courage or devil-may-care that few people could summon in this self-serious age, “zero interest in technology.”

This is extreme. Let’s see…there may not be anyone left with significant status in any profession who eschews computers, not to mention the whole of technology. There may not be anyone at all, at any level, of a content-creating field who doesn’t pride himself on (or take for granted) a level of exaggerated connectedness. Woody may be the only person with some direct influence on the Zeitgeist who is not an active member of the cloud.

It’s a last living Civil War veteran kind of thing. It’s possible that Woody occupies an elderly person status. But, truly, that seems far from the case. He’s as dogged and productive as…well is there anyone as dogged and productive? It’s pretty hard to see Woody’s nonparticipation in the digital world as a handicap. Who produces more, Clay Shirky? Biz Stone? Steve Jobs? Jeff Jarvis?

If you could be Steve Jobs or Woody Allen, who would you choose to be? Only the young and tiresome would choose the former.

I wonder if there are others who, as the world transforms, are actually holding out—but too embarrassed to admit it? There must be many more temperamentally retro people struggling unhappily with their machines than we realize. Indeed, saying no completely, and grandly, seems much more the way to go, pride wise, than being forced into an uncomfortable, jury-rigged relationship with the merciless digital world.

But is there anyone left, not vastly disturbed, who is this militant besides Woody? Still doing his work in singular fashion? Still…typing?

Woody’s way makes you wish there was a control group, a fierce and humorous population of refuseniks, Steve-Jobs-ophobes, still making ends meet and sentences complete the old fashioned way—then we could see what we might have lost.

If you think about it, it is rather a great risk we’ve taken here so willingly giving up what, I’d forgotten until Woody mentioned it, used to work so well.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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