Social Science - Other

Will Written Text Survive as a Communication Medium – Yes



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Ebooks have made little inroad against printed versions. Even serious computer addicts (like me) that spend their time on-line reading blogs, comments and articles prefer a newspaper that we can page through. A book is a book and there is no way that I will even make an attempt to read a book on-line.

The question here is about written text. Are we going to continue to teach our children to write? Is every child going to be equipped with a laptop from the moment they start school? Will teachers still write on the blackboard or simply project images from their computers onto a screen?

Written text is becoming quite rare. I don't remember the last time I saw a hand written letter. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a personal letter for a long time. The closest is a hastily typed email.

I have been to meetings where the participants faces are obscured by laptops. It may look as though they are furiously taking notes. In reality they are answering their emails. Students sit in lectures behind laptops. All the lecture notes are pre-printed. There is no need to take notes.

Somehow, there is still a need to use pen and paper. In my business consulting I use it all the time. On the odd occasion we work on a machine with a projected image, but pen and paper is still less obtrusive and much faster that using a laptop or a palm-top. Recording meetings may be useful where there is a dispute about the minutes, but who wants to sit through a two hour meeting again? When it comes to taking minutes, pen and paper is still the best. Writing is faster than typing. It allows for more flexibility.

Then there are written exams. Some on-line universities do have on-line exams as well, but that is a solution that favours the fast typers. I worked on course where this was applied - the students were not happy.

Pen and paper is still the most portable solution around. It love being able to leave my laptop at home.

One place where writing will never be replaced is on the Torah scrolls used in orthodox Judaism. The scrolls are made from leather parchment. Every letter in the Torah must be handwritten with a special kind of pen and a very specific ink. That is the law and it will never change. The same principal applies to the scrolls used in a Mezzuzah - these are placed on every door in a Jewish home. So this is one place where written text will survive. The Torah is read from the scrolls every Shabbat and at every festival and religious holiday.

Caligraphy is still popular. In fact, the calligraphy tools and materials are more easily available than ever. We are all tired of computer printed invitations and cards, and calligraphy has become the preferred medium.

Written text has fallen away in many respects. Letter writing is a disappearing art. But we are finding new ways to use pens, pencils and paper as a communication tool. We can use it during presentations. Everyone has had enough of slide presentations!

The art of writing is not dead! Let's hope that it will never die.

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