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When the Choice Is Given – Handwriting vs. Typing

handwriting vs typing

Do you have good handwriting? Do you even know if it is good? We are all used to scribbling little notes: post-it notes on a fridge, a signature on a document, a short shopping-list. But when was the last time you actually wrote a full-fledged text with pen and paper? A real, handwritten letter, stamped and posted? An academic text, perhaps? Something else?

Latest studies show that an increasing number of people leave handwriting in favor of typing completely. Most people never write more than a dozen words with their own hand at any single time, considering long texts to be the prerogative of a keyboard.

And it is easy to understand them. After all, from its very beginning about 4000 BC the main goal of writing was to make the distance between the thought and its implementation as short as possible. Writing on clay tablets was slow and awkward, but it was better than memorizing every word. Parchment was unwieldy and cumbersome, but still better than clay. It was the same with every new development in the sphere of writing.

The first advantage of typing is speed. No amount of handwriting practice will allow one to write faster than even a rather mediocre typist – let alone a professional who can produce 500-600 symbols per minute, thus almost completely eliminating the interval between thought and word. It is easier. It is cleaner. It is more productive. One wonders, what’s not to like about it?

As it turns out, there are a lot of people who bemoan the decline of handwriting. With typing practice replacing good old pen and paper even at school, they say, we are losing a precious tradition, an art, a way of expressing ourselves. Moreover, some studies seem to show that children learning to write by hand show better results at remembering letters than those that learn written word by typing. Other studies show that making notes by hand allows you to better memorize what you are jotting down.

Perhaps it is true, perhaps not – studies of this subject are too few and far between to make any conclusions.

But something similar was always said when some new invention in the sphere of writing appeared in the past. The invention of the printing press led to massive outcry of traditionalists and those who were in danger of losing their jobs, i.e., scribes who were the sole source of books prior to that. They said that printing press would kill the art of creating handwritten books, with all their decorations, carefully drawn pictures and beautifully written capitals. And it really happened – but are we really worse off because of it?

No doubt, when writing was first invented there was a lot of talk about how it would ruin people’s memory because they will no longer have to memorize anything, how it would kill the art of storytelling and so on.

Luckily for us, back then nobody listened to these doomsayers.

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