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The lucrative comeback of handwriting: how the technology that killed it wants to bring it back


Over the years and the ubiquity of keyboards, writing by hand has become an artisan act, almost a fetish. But the same actors who cornered handwriting now want to sell us products to recover it

In 1980, an inspector from the Ministry of Education visited a school in Cuenca and was blown away.

The children read and wrote better than in the rest of the schools in Spain.

As their teachers recalled in this article, they also "danced, sang and were happy", which was a bit overbearing.

In any case, the inspector encouraged the teaching team to publish their method of learning to read and write.

And so the Micho kittens primers were born, very popular in Spain during the eighties and nineties.

That may have been the last generation in the country that learned to write well by hand.

But the culprits were not three kittens from a Cuenca school, but dozens of devices that were being created at that time in garages in Silicon Valley.

Writing by hand has gone from being an everyday act to a rarity.

In universities and offices, the scratching of the pencil on the page has been replaced by the mechanical rattling of the keyboard.

It is faster.

It is more practical.

Is better.

But as we abandon handwriting we realize what we have lost with it.

"When writing by hand, spontaneously, a series of complex cognitive mechanisms are put into operation," explains Marcelo Berthier, professor of Neurology at the University of Malaga specializing in language, in a telephone conversation.

"In addition, there are the motor aspects of writing, which would be graphics, which makes someone have their calligraphy and their personal style of writing, that their handwriting is recognizable by other people."

More information

Beyond the iPad: why electronic ink is consolidated as an alternative to tablets

Dr. Berthier explains that handwriting improves oral language and vice versa.

Therefore, abandoning the pen and pencil could end up impoverishing the language.

And in this sense he does not believe that keyboards and typing are a substitute.

To understand what its use can do to our brain, he compares it to another technological tool.

“This is like calculus, when you use a calculator a lot, mental calculation becomes slower, more inefficient.

With writing it is the same, either you use it or you lose it, or at least it weakens ”, he warns.

The lucrative return of handwriting

Vinyl doesn't sound better than Spotify, in the same way that a Moleskine isn't any more practical than a Google Drive.

But they are much cuter.

Over the years and the ubiquity of technology, writing by hand has become an artisan,


, almost fetishistic act.

This motif has also helped bring back traditional writing.

Nostalgia sells, the pose sells, and also going back to the notebook has an added advantage: there are no notifications.

ReMarklable, the "digital notebook" created by Magnus Wanberg that has sold one million units and is in its second version.Remarklable

When he was in college, Magnus Wanberg was tired of the abuse of notifications that come with technological gadgets.

To put the problem in context: Americans consult the mobile screen about 352 times a day, according to this study.

Once every 2 minutes and 43 seconds.

But good old Wanberg no.

And not because he was Norwegian, but because he went to college without a cell phone or computer, just with a notebook.

The experience was so satisfying that when he finished university he insisted that many more imitate him.

Wanberg is the creator of reMarkable, an electronic ink tablet that digitizes the stroke, becoming a perfect hybrid between manual and digital writing.

It has shipped more than a million units and is on its second version.

But Wangber is not the only one who has understood the reef that this business can bring.

Amazon's recent entry into the market has finished consolidating it.

Jeff Bezos's company knew how to imitate the experience of reading on paper with his Kindle like no other.

Now you want to do the same with writing.

The Kindle Scribe has a stylus and can double as a notepad.

Big players in the analog world, such as Moleskine or Montblanc, have also wanted to jump on the bandwagon, with notebooks that combine the best of analog and digital.

Tablets also incorporate that functionality, with Apple and its iPad leading the way.

The same people to blame for our screens being filled with notifications are now the ones who want to get rid of them.

Not all bet on returning to manual writing.

There are companies, such as Freewrite, that pull from nostalgia and abandon notifications with devices that are reminiscent of old typewriters for a price that ranges between 500 and 1,100 euros.

They call them intelligent typewriters precisely because they are not.

They promise to "multiply productivity by two and three" because they don't have a WiFi connection.

Like any electronic device when put in airplane mode but with a cool retro aesthetic.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Freewrite (@getfreewrite)

"It is a bit worrying that less and less is being written," laments Iván Castro on WhatsApp.

It is not his case.

He is a graphic artist specializing in lettering, has a book on the subject,

The ABC of Custom Lettering

, and teaches classes at a calligraphy retreat in Barcelona.

He believes that the abandonment of manual writing is related to the current pace of life.

“That society types instead of writing is a symptom of the immediacy that we seek with everything:

fast food

, the massive consumption of series on Netflix,

fast fashion

… Everything has to be immediate”, he explains.

Even so, he concedes that there is an increasingly consolidated countermovement.

That is why he refuses to talk about the fashion of handwriting.

He believes that the psychological benefits will make the return of the pen permanent.

“Writing is an intellectual act, when you write something by hand, you process it in another way.

When drawing an A you have to process and make a much greater psychomotor effort than typing this same letter”.

From a different perspective, Dr. Berthier agrees.

And somehow, without even mentioning them, he vindicates the importance of the three Micho kittens.

“Calligraphy, many years ago, was an important part of the process of learning to write,” he recalls.

“By drawing letters in different styles, in cursive, in print, in uppercase, Gothic, etc., we use different neural circuits.

Practice is essential, but it has been abandoned.

Well, yes, it's part of the modernization, isn't it?

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-13

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