Colin Charles Agenda

Are future generations going to forget to write?

As someone that spends a lot of time in front of a keyboard, many get a kick out of the fact that I always have a notebook with me (usually a moleskine or field notes of some sort) and a battered up montblanc pen.

I did learn to write cursive back when I was in junior school, but it never lasted and my scrawl basically took over and this is what I write with till today. Yet I write a whole smattering of things from TODO lists to meeting notes. Yes, I am one of those people who go into a meeting room not to tap on a keyboard or touch a tablet’s virtual keyboard – I usually write long form notes recording all sorts of information, which I then review later. I’m no Richard Branson, but you can be assured I always have a notebook & pen handy. (additional reading: Pocket Notebook of 20 Famous Men, What’s in Richard Branson’s notebook?)

Today’s FT Weekend had a column by Gillian Tett: Handwriting: a joined-up case (read it!). The takeaway quote from that: “It is keyboards that really matter now in the global economy, not penmanship”. It seems teachers are suggesting that its better to learn keyboard-skills over writing. 

There’s much wrong with this. For one, default keyboards are QWERTY which exist to slow you down (compared to DVORAK layouts) during the times of typewriters. Yes, that’s how old keyboards are – they’ve not changed since the days of the typewriter.

Writing is a life skill. You don’t always have a keyboard/touch keyboard all the time.

I however do feel that we’re in yet another midst of a digital native vs digital immigrant. I myself might be a digital immigrant compared to kids of today. Generations are made every 10 years (at minimum in this fast paced tech world), in my opinion (though Wikipedia suggests its a minimum of 20 years). Will we see the future forget to write? How much will be lost to digital rot (remember 5 1/4 disks? 3 1/2 floppies? Older hard disks, etc.)?