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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Preface To Pen Pals On Paper...

Pen Pals On Paper - Book Project

A tribute to slow time, and the art of writing in the World of Paper...

While the world debates abandoning teaching cursive writing in a world of digital files and keyboards, this blog celebrates the art of writing by hand. Without the Digital World, this project is neither possible nor necessary. It is meant to be a beautiful marriage of both mediums.

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Pen Pals On Paper - Continued...

There are several reasons to retain cursive writing. We shall discuss that shortly. First, however, I would like to distinguis between "handwriting," and cursive penmanship.

While the term "handwriting" is often used interchangeably with "cursive writing," they are not the same thing. "Handwriting" also includes printing by hand. Cursive script is only cursive script. It is a distinct subset of handwriting.

Onward now we go, into the discussion of the reasons we may wish to retain the art of cursive writing...

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The Benefits of Cursive Writing In a Digital World:

  • Fine hand-eye coordination; The act of writing by hand emphasizes fine motor skill pathways in the human brain. This ability can be useful for many tasks in life. It also may help enable any latent artistic talent for drawing and painting by hand.
  • Uniqueness of style: Handwriting, both cursive and printed, are as unique to each individual as are fingerprints or iris patterns in the eye. In an era where most textual communication was done on hand-written letters or notes, the author of a message was easily identified by persons familiar to them.
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Benefits of Cursive - Continued...

People familiar with a writer would have years of reading a particular author's handwriting, and be able to recognize it at a glance.
  • Distraction-Free Writing; Writing on paper has no "notifications." No computer program or "app" can make something pop up on a page in your notebook. If you set your phone on silent, place it screen-down on the table, and open your notebook, the only thing that can disturb you while writing is yourself, a visitor, or a disaster. You are much more likely to write down a well-thought-out and complete narrative than on a keyboard. 
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Benefits of Cursive Writing - Continued...

  • Style and Aesthetics; In my mind, cursive writing on paper is more beautiful than fonts on a computer screen. You are seeing writing that took a person years to develop the skill to do. It is unique, and also has an ability to convey context that digital fonts lack. You can tell if a writer was rushed, for instance. Their writing will become sloppy and cramped. There is a quick and easy freedom to adapt writing on-the-fly. [small drawing of a house-fly] It is easy to insert "special characters," or small illustrations. It makes a form of artistic [symbolf for "cents"]. Writing in cursive is a graceful art inherently designed for the human eye.
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The Down-Side of Cursive Writing...

Simply-put, handwriting can't currently be hyperlinked. You can't click on paper and go to a different topic.

Replication isn't an issue for cursive script. Digital scanners and facsimile ("fax") machines have been with us for a very long time.

It's really the [in-]ability to link to other documents from within writing on paper that the Digital World looks down upon. Yet, is that really such a detriment? I would argue that in many cases, the lack of links in a paper document is actually a benefit.

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Why Hyperlinks Are Often a Detriment to the Reader...

  • Distraction-free reading... Hyperlinks entice the reader to abandon the very subject they came to a given document to learn of. Links in the body of a text are like land mines to thorough reading. Following them in mid-text leaves the original subject incompletely-learned. It leads to "subject-hopping." I see this as akin to, but much more damaging than "channel-surfing" on television. Reading comprehension and depth-of-learning would be far-better served if hyperlinks were confined to footnotes or an appendix at the end of a document.
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How Can We Marry The Benefits of Hyperlinking With the Readability  of Paper Documents?

  • By writing documents, scanning them, and embedding them in a digital compilation with a well-hyperlinked appendix.
I fully realize that this is more effort than most modern writers are willing to undertake. Learning the handwriting of a new author may also be more than some readers are willing to do. Yet what does that really ay about our culture, and [about] us?  Perhaps that we have been conditioned to value the fast, the shallow, and the mass-produced over the patiently-crafted. You must decide for yourself...

Dan Stafford  10-14-2017

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