Reading, Writing, and Non-digital Technologies

You’ve probably seen BIC’s recent ads to “fight for your write” and become a “handwriting hero.” They claim that handwriting is dying, and we need to save it:

BIC might have you believe that the decline in handwriting is due to digital technologies. But Josh Giesbrecht’s Atlantic article suggests that the ballpoint pen itself might have had a part in handwriting’s decline:

My experience with fountain pens suggests a new answer. Perhaps it’s not digital technology that hindered my handwriting, but the technology that I was holding as I put pen to paper. Fountain pens want to connect letters. Ballpoint pens need to be convinced to write, need to be pushed into the paper rather than merely touch it. The No.2 pencils I used for math notes weren’t much of a break either, requiring pressure similar to that of a ballpoint pen.

In other words, we need to look closer at how “mundane” technologies influence our reading and writing practices.

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