Is cursive writing dead? Or will technology, through electronic pens and screens, once again encourage a skill that was once treasured amongst literate people? As one who enjoys cursive writing and fountain pens, I am always on the lookout for ways that combine the best of both worlds.
When viewing the history of cursive writing, it is interesting to note the skill and precision with which writers of old practiced their craft. Mariners sailing around the world spent many hours documenting their location, the weather and the events of the day in detail using wonderful script (and in triplicate). For an excellent example, look at Captain James Cook’s journal from his first voyage.
Today, much writing uses only 140 characters or less and with one or two thumbs, rather quickly and for immediate consumption. Back in Captain Cook’s days, it might be two or three years before anyone read one of the three copies of the Captains log that he wrote. Today we can hear about what is happening in real time and with pictures and video. But something is missing from the communication!
Does anyone care that cursive writing may be a thing of the past? Should schools even bother teaching it? Is cursive writing going to fall in line with calligraphy – practiced only by a few people. Or does technology once again offer a modern method to respect the past, while taking advantage of the latest inventions. Let’s explore this a little more.
The latest pencils and pens from Apple and Microsoft offer a great deal not just for writers, but for artists as well. These highly sensitive and sophisticated instruments can make a single device produce a variety of outputs – pencil, highlighter, fountain pen, and brush. And of course there are millions of colors to choose from and different effects.
I went to the Apple store to test the Apple pencil. Very impressive. As a cursive writer and one who uses fountain pens, it emulates pencil, pen, fountain pen and brushes well. There is no lag and millions of combinations of output. The iPad Pro actually scans twice as fast when the pencil is the input device. Position, force and tilt are all measured and the pencil reacts accordingly. The effects that can be generated are truly magnificent.
Next, I went to the Microsoft store to purchase the new Surface pen. It is an improvement over the one I currently use in that it has more levels of pressure (4096), so that when you are lighter with the pen (when you are finishing a stroke), it accurately reflects the in the written work. And with the tilt feature you can use it as you would a pencil to shade an area. However, I could not purchase any as they were sold out on pre-orders. You cannot even get
them online in Canada – as of the date of this article. Again incredible technology that supports a return to cursive writing for those that would like to take advantage of the technology.
So we can go back to the future! Let’s encourage cursive writing through utilization of the current and future technologies. Think of how Captain Cook could have utilized the technology we have today to document his travels in script and drawings. I am sure that as one who used the latest technology of the time to explore foreign worlds, he would be happy to use our technology to document his voyages!