The Curse of Cursive

  • by , February 27, 2007

I don't really remember learning to type.

Sure, I recall classes with Mavis Bacon and boxes over the keyboards of a Macintosh with an 1/8 of the processing power that my PocketPC has now. I also recall not doing well in those classes.

I remember pecking at the keys after using AOL to dial-up into my buddy list and the chat room that was my after school hang out in middle school. I pecked my way through conversations, staring at the keyboard as my index finger navigated the high QWERTY seas.

But, somewhere down the line I suddenly started typing without prior review of my keystrokes. I moved my fingers and letters appeared on the screen ... in the same order I had planned they would! Suddenly, I could type at a rate of a professional secretary. To this day I have a rather fast typing rate. That doesn't mean I do it correctly, though.

Friends frequently call me out for typing in a fashion other than the standard "home keys" setup. My left hand lingers toward the bottom left of the keyboard and my right hand seems to do a lot more moving around. Call it a bad habit, but it's effective in getting done what I need. Luckily, I've never broken a bone in my body, let alone my hand. But for those who have, it's a unpleasantly memorable experience from what I comprehend.



After listening to a classmate with a broken right hand speak of his difficultly typing a four to six page research paper last week, I started thinking about the way society interacts with its tech toys. We control technology through our senses - via voice and touch/movement, mainly. When either of these senses is blocked - i.e., by a broken hand - we humans have to adapt and find new ways to interact. After all, chicken-pecking a 1,000 word essay is a monstrous task.

Sure, it'd be a pain to shower with a cast on your right hand ... but stop and ponder how it would affect your use of media and technology. If you're like me, you'll lose the ability to effectively communicate "at full power" until your hand is taken off the disabled list.


It can be argued that a problem like this existed as soon as written communication developed... But in a e-commerce society where money and deals are done at mouse-point, the ability to efficiently communicate through your hands seems of high importance.

It's a matter of conditioning. We're trained to use the equipment in a certain way and follow that way through our lives. When these curve balls are thrown at us, we learn to eat, drink, shower and drive around the problem. Now, we have to learn to communicate around them, too.

I look at schools now and chuckle at the integration of computers into the curriculum. Typing and computer-aided assignments are more standard than cursive writing, it seems. Nowadays, 8-year-old children can work their way around Windows Vista faster than I could figure out how to win at CandyLand.

Twelve-year-olds can text faster than I could at age 12, neglect the fact that I didn't have a cell phone when I was 12. I know, I know ... some of you didn't have cell phones until you were in your 30s... Well, welcome to the perspective of a 22-year-old living in 2007. Will schools someday sponsor T9 classes? Will T9 still exist "someday?"

Business is all about exploiting voids and profiting from them. "David ____ teaches T9," has a ring to it.

I like that ... so long as I don't break my thumbs anytime soon.

David is a 22-year-old senior who still struggles at winning CandyLand ... and writing in cursive. Texting in T9? A different story.

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