Excursions

by Amit Gawande

Pen is, still, mightier

Recently I read an article by Nick Bilton that announced, or at least inclined to, the demise of the pen. Fare Thee Well, My Pen”, the headline read.

It claimed the pen is murdered by finger”. It claimed today’s technology driven world rarely gives us an opportunity, or rather rarely necessitates us, to use a pen. It claimed we use fingers on touch screens/keyboards, a proven superior alternative by few, to perform most of the jobs.

In the end, it made me wonder if that really is true. Do I observe this around me? Answer came, may be. After all, I rarely see a pen these days. May be that is for the reasons that Nick Bilton so succinctly puts forth.

Shall we all, then, decree the pen as dead? Shall we, then, assume this old device as obsolete? Well, may be not so soon.

I feel pen will live on; the form, though, might be unlike what is seen today.

Handwritten words reflect writer’s personality

In my list of read-later’ articles lied another post from Matt Gemmell, Handwriting. Here’s what Matt has to say about decreased usage of hand-written words (emphasis mine).

We’ve lost something. Our instantly-delivered, electronically rendered thoughts are clean and readable, but if we’re honest, they also inhabit a sort of uncanny valley. There’s a degree of removal between the work and the author. Perfect letterforms, lined up algorithmically, standing like an eerie, emotionless army of sinister mannequins.

I really could not have put the thoughts any better. Unnecessary to say then, I completely agree with Matt.

Words penned on a piece of paper, by hand, have a personality of their own. Usually it is the reflection of the writer’s personality, even his current state of mind.

Words strung together via key-presses, on the other hand, all look the same. Does not matter, then, if they were carefully studded by a gleeful lover or were hurriedly spread across by a tear-ridden son. They all look exactly the same.

A Passing phase

Intermittent solution technologists have, currently, is fonts. Every user is supposed to select a font while putting words through. Designers try to design fonts that look pleasant, have different strokes, and heights, and distribution of weight in characters. What we are supposed to believe is we select fonts based on who we are. What we are supposed to believe is we impart personality to what we write when we select fonts.

We are fooled, I believe.

I believe this is just a passing phase when fonts represent what designers want them to. Designers, hence, craft fonts that make words look the best. Least thought is given to make them look authentically personal.

I believe the day is not far when technology will allow every person to trace his own font in simplest of manner. That day the words from different people would not be the same. That day even the words digitally rendered would exhibit authenticness, a uniqueness. That day the reader will infer the mood of the writer from his email.

Pen, in its current form, may not be saved then (and that battle is already lost, I believe). But the individuality and the personality will prevail in the words penned via its remodelled form too.

Only then, will this beloved ink-filled canister rest in peace!