Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Writing Is On The Wall : Part 1

That most fascinating of bloggers, Teresa Evangeline, wrote a post a week or two ago about hand-writing. Like so many of us, she praised the undoubted benefits in terms of time, expense and convenience of e-mails and texts, but regretted the passing of that extra dimension of insight and understanding that was always provided by being able to see the other person's handwriting. In some ways it is rather like conducting a conversation with someone without being able to hear their voice (and I had enough experience of "conversations" via written notes during my years of deafness to know what I am talking about) : it is communication, but stripped-down, utilitarian, generic communication.


As a somewhat half-hearted collector of old postcards, I have always been equally fascinated by what is written on the reverse of a card as with the picture that was on the obverse side : and not just what is written, but how it is written. One of the attractions of the "Gentle Twitter" project I initiated earlier this year was that it resulted in hand-written cards from people I had previously known only through the medium of type-written script.

There are a fair few examples of my own handwriting dotted throughout my Blog Archives (look no further than here or perhaps here) and I am not sure which extra dimension of my character they illustrate (other than I spend too much time sat in pubs, writing notes). My brother Roger, raised hand-written notes to a higher level than I have ever been able to achieve : and two of his books are "hand-written (Virgin Island Sketches and Caribbean Sketches). Here is an illustrative page from the latter.


The question which came to my mind when I read Teresa' post was "can new technology offer us any ways of incorporating that extra-dimension into our Blog Posts?" So armed with my iPad and a stylus pen I embarked on an experiment - the results of which I will share with you on Thursday. Then, I promise you, the writing will be on the wall.

19 comments:

  1. I'm very fond of handwritten documentation which is a pity now that I have so much trouble with it. With my introduction to typewriters XXX years ago, writing became scribble a long time ago and I cannot (or maybe will not is a better excuse) readjust. However, I look forward to seeing the result of your experiment with the iPad.

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  2. Yes, and the other thing, which I think I can spot in the example above, is that they were often written with real ink (usually before Mr Biro invented the ballpoint). Sometimes this resulted in splodges due to rain, tears or clumsy thumbs, adding yet another dimesion!

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  3. What on earth is the bloke in the top right doing to that child? Surely it's illegal, not to say dangerous.

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  4. Before I got to the bit where you mention your iPad, I was thinking 'Wacom tablet'. Now you've whetted my appetite for Thursday.

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  5. Can't wait for Thursday.
    I started a hand-written letter to my son yesterday, but quit after about 5 minutes because my hand cannot keep up with my thoughts at all. In that respect typing is the better medium for me. Yet, I have to say it is so interesting to see another's handwriting.

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  6. Now there's a good reason to hook up my Bamboo Pen! Hmm.

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  7. the topic of handwriting and 'the death of handwriting' has been on my mind for a while.

    i love looking at handwriting and also seeing how it varies over time and place.

    last week i was in a discussion with some folks about when we were in elementary school and how we were graded on our handwriting - i confessed that i always received c's or d's from the nuns.... this was in reply to a woman stating that i had "lovely handwriting"

    then just a few days ago on one of the npr programs i listen to there was a discussion about how many if not most schools in the u.s are no longer teaching cursive handwriting - it was a fascinating program.

    yes with your gentle twitter project you must be having much fun seeing the handwriting of so many friends you've never met!

    love your bro's books -- i've been playing with the idea of doing the next edition of the family cookbook i edited a few years ago as a handwritten book - similar to the first edition of the moosewood cookbook. now if i could only draw to accompany the text of the recipes and stories....

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  8. I love a handwritten letter or card. There is SO MUCH in contemplating/analyzing handwriting. I was sad to hear that my children's school will be dropping "cursive" writing lessons as printing and computer will take precedence...I asked..."How then will they develop their signature for formal documents etc?"

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  9. Oooooh! An experiment! I'm waiting with bated breath.

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  10. As a child, I couldn't wait until I got my own typewriter. I never liked writing "long-hand." I do enjoy reading it, however. Every so often I stumble across old autograph books, etc., and I'm fascinated by their contents. Looking forward to the next post!

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  11. Tis a pity we didn't carry on learning to write in copperplate, it was so beautiful. I find these days my handwriting is both illegible and a real chore. I think too fast for my writing hand. I'll be fascinated to see the results of your experiment.

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  12. Well you've seen my handwriting. If I put it on a blog post readers would need a translator. Looking forward to your effort though. I heard that there's a move afoot here albeit small to eliminate teaching kids to write cursive thanks or not to the advent of laptops in school!

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  13. I remember reviewing Roger's book in the bookstore and seeing all of his sketches of the island. I am anxious to see if the internet can give us a more personalized way of expression.

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  14. I ran into the "we are no longer teaching cursive handwriting" but encourage kids to print, a long time ago and it is still being done. In addition to math, science and history, handwriting is one of the least taught subjects in our school systems.

    We, I, me and Patty, ran a handwriting business out of our home for many years. We hitched onto the circus called, "Calligraphy" and I rode it all the way to the completion of a 13-week television series shown across this country. Now, however, we are back at square one (before schools in America). And. we are a nation of scribblers.

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  15. Penmanship AKA the Palmer Method was taught in early grades. It is one reason my handwriting, both print and cursive, remains readable to others.

    I can see a huge difference in the handwriting of today, especially when handwritten essays must be understood and given an appropriate score--not easy to read at all.

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  16. Thanks for the generous words, Alan. Handwritten books with sketches are a great idea. Too bad I can't draw a decent stick man.
    I look forward to Thursday.

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  17. Oh, yes, I completely agree. Looking forward to your coming post. You have wonderful penmanship Alan!

    I do love that old Spencerian style on vintage postcards! My, we would never take the time to write like that now, would we? ha.

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  18. I wonder if sometime in the future our universities will offer a minor in "Deciphering."

    My copy of Antonia Fraser's biography of Mary Queen of Scots has an appendix - copies of all the Casket Letters (the surviving bits, anyway) - and I love to look at that lovely Roman script...but as for understanding one word in a hundred!

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  19. I can't wait to see what you come up with for Thursday. In the meantime, Roger's sketches are wonderful.

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