Computers, English, Writing

Handwriting and Touchtyping

Having good handwriting has long been one of the hallmarks of a well educated and well bred individual. And for good reason, it is a wonderful proxy for judging attentiveness – if one can’t be bothered to write well and legibly what else can’t he be bothered to do? Indeed, handwriting is an art in itself, much like framing is an art as much as painting, and an attractive, well made frame is going to add to the view experience. Attractive handwriting is a pleasure to read and facilitates reading in self in ways beyond just legibility, if one enjoys merely looking at writing he is far more likely to actually read it.

Bad handwriting is not just the chicken-scratch that your grammar school teachers hated so much (ans probably acquiesced to after a few weeks), no it is also overly wrought handwriting. This famous example is an excellent compromise between legibility and decoration – the goal is unique legibility.

This is unfortunately a skill that has become entirely disregarded especially as people increasing type everything that they used to write by hand. But even today when one looks at a friends writing, they will almost always make a comment if it is above our very low par. This new, democratic skill, typing, has replaced handwriting in both teaching and usage. However, like handwriting, very few bother to develop the skill. The skill to which I am referring is touchtyping and when someone can actually do it properly (a rare sight indeed), it is usually very impressive.

That is impressive, at that kind of speed there is no barrier to thought, the words are getting down onto the paper significantly faster than he could write them by hand. This is the main benefit of touch typing: speed.

However, it is usually taught in grammar or elementary school as a thirty minute class that goes on for half the year at most. At this point children have already begun using keyboards, in fact, they have probably been using them for quite a long time. Those habits are already in place and they are NOT easy to undo. As such, considering almost everyone finds touchtyping to be difficult at first, most people quit and never learn to type properly. Even when they grow up and have to type all day at their jobs, hardly anyone puts in the effort.

Until my hand was forced by switching to a new keyboard format, I steadfastly refused to go through the pain of having to learn to touchtype… Now that I have to relearn to type anyway I figured I may as well learn to type correctly. And it has been difficult but extraordinarily rewarding – everyone ought to relearn to type properly (or, better yet, switch to the Dvorak keyboard). There are plenty of good sites out there for relearning to type. So get to it and, while your at it, do something about that handwriting.

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