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  • Keeping Chinese Calligraphy Alive

    chinese calligraphyWhen we think of the loss of handwriting as a common skill, we tend to think of it in terms of English handwriting.

    But the Chinese are experiencing a similar issue with regards to traditional Chinese calligraphy. And now, as fewer and fewer people learn the painstaking handwriting craft, a core group of traditionalists are working to keep calligraphy alive.

    (Hacking Chinese has a great four-part tutorial that explains some of the basics of Chinese handwriting.)

    At the forefront is Pang Zhonghua, who began promoting Chinese hard-nib calligraphy three decades ago and has been busy spreading it around China and the world ever since. Continue reading

  • Using Handwriting To Instantly Confirm Identity?

    Here's something interesting in light of the whole "handwriting is dead" argument. The US government may be using a person's handwriting as a way to secure equipment and sensitive areas.

    Biometric identification is a technology that relies on unique characteristics of the human body to establish identification. For example, we've all seen the movies where some military person looks into an eye scanner to unlock a door into a secure room. The system analyzes the eye, matches it to previous records and unlocks the door.

    "Dynamic signature" is a biometric system that works the same way, only instead of analyzing an eye, it checks the person's signature. And not just the shape of the letters. The system measures everything from the pressure applied by the person writing to the speed with which letters are formed. Continue reading

  • Font Like A Famous Person

    Einstein fontWant to give your email messages a little bit of panache? Try typing them in the handwriting of a famous person.

    Custom fonts are relatively easy to make and in demand now, so designers are taking advantage of the market by delving into the past to create unique fonts that mimic historical figures.

    Available for download: Fonts that look like the writing of everyone from Sigmund Freud to Cezanne. Continue reading

  • UK Man Spent 10 Years Writing And Illustrating Bible By Hand

    Dino Mazzoli hand-illustrated BibleAn Italian septagenarian living in the UK has completed a 10-year project to write and hand-illustrate the Bible and is now selling it on iTunes for charity.

    Dino Mazzoli, 78, told the Daily Mail that he became housebound back in 2001 and came up with the idea to create a hand-written illustrated Bible. Continue reading

  • Pen And Ink Potpourri

    This is the time of year when some days are best spent curled up inside where it's toasty, drinking something hot and sweet and reading about your favorite things.

    If you're a pen person, this is a collection of reads that might just make you feel all warm and fuzzy. So, grab your tablet and your mug, find the snuggliest seat in the house and settle in.

    Pocket protector envy

    Gizmodo is in love with the Rotring 800+, except for its price tag. So, now that Monteverde has a mechanical pencil/stylus on the market – one that includes a ruler, scale and phillips and flathead screwdrivers – for less than the Rotring, the writers at Gizmodo are ecstatic.

    Money isn't everything

    The cheaper option isn't necessarily the better one, Wired points out, after pitting the Lamy Vista against the Delta Serena. Writer Richard Baguley recommends spending a little extra when choosing a fountain pen – but within limits.

    Walk, you lazy babies

    Now this is an new angle on the whole kids-and-handwriting discussion. The Herald Scotland reports that, in response to concerns that Scottish children's handwriting skills are deterioriating, an academic in the education field blames the use of baby buggies.

    My fountain pen can beat up your keyboard

    The always pen-friendly Guardian makes another argument for the superiority of handwriting to keyboarding with a round-up of studies linking improved cognition with writing by hand. And it's not just handwriting that enriches mankind, the piece concludes.

    Certainly the graphic arts and calligraphy are thriving. Perhaps, in their way, they compensate for our soulless keyboards.

    At least ink knows no gender

    Author Ted Bishop earns a double-edged review from the Winnipeg Free Press for his engaging book, "The Social Life of Ink." The reviewer enjoys Bishop's exploration of inks and their uses, including his attempts to make ink from charred sheep bones, but takes issue with the author's tendency to lapse in chauvinist tropes.

  • Handwriting vs. Technology: 6 Reasons Why Taking Notes By Hand Still Wins

    Handwriting is always dying. Fading. Becoming a lost art.

    That's how it's often described, even by those who love it. But the thing is, handwriting is not some quaint remnant of the past that we look back on fondly. It is an essential skill, obviously not as widely used as it once was, but still relevant, even now, and better in many ways than the more advanced tools that have supposedly replaced it.

    1. Versatility of pen and paper

    When I take notes, I don't write only in linear paragraphs. Sometimes, a thought or detail jumps out at me, and I like to make a special note of it. When underlining isn't enough, I'll write a little side note, usually at a 45 degree angle to the original paragraph, with an arrow pointing to the word or phrase that triggered the thought.

    You ever tried doing something like that with a keyboard and a regular word processing program? Continue reading

  • Survey: Average Adult Hasn't Written By Hand In Last Six Weeks

    This might seem alien to those of us who pick up our pens daily, even if for just a few moments, but apparently weeks can go by between writing sessions for the typical adult.

    Docmail, an online stationery and business forms service, commissioned a survey on the writing habits of British adults and received some gloomy results.

    According to the Daily Mail:

    The research...revealed that the average time since an adult last wrote by hand was 41 days. But it also found that one in three of us has not had cause to write anything ‘properly’ for more than six months.

    Two thirds of the 2,000 respondents said that if they do write by hand, it’s usually something for their eyes only with hastily scribbled reminders or notes most common.

    Also from the survey, one-third of British adults have positive feelings toward handwriting, but would not want to do it every day. And one out of six said they didn't think handwriting should even be taught in school.

    But here's the big question: Do you buy this?

    My answer is a resounding, 'No.' Not entirely, anyway. I do believe most people are probably unsatisfied with their own handwriting and that there are many who prefer 'writing' on their phones, tablets, etc, simply for the convenience. But to go nearly six weeks without writing down anything?  Just not plausible.

    When was the last time you were in a workplace, any workplace, and didn't see pens lying around? Everyone from store clerks to carpenters to office workers need writing instruments on a fairly regular basis to perform their jobs. After all, someone has to be using the billions of pens that are sold around the world every year, and they can't all be school children.

    So far, I haven't seen anything that reveals who conducted the survey for Docmail or what methodology was used.

    It's interesting to note that the survey was commissioned by a business that revolves around the automation of paperwork. As the Daily Mail quoted the company's managing director, Dave Broadway, 'Handwriting will always carry a sentimental value but inevitably makes way when it comes to the need to be efficient.'

    This might just be a case of finding exactly what they wanted to find.

    What do you think?

  • Students' Hands Too Feeble To Write Essays?

    OK, we're understanding people, we really are. But the Guardian has published a piece that puts forth the idea students are so unused to writing by hand that it stresses them out to do so on exams.


    From the Guardian:

    For the moment it seems that the pen and paper are here to stay, but examiners are aware of the strain written tests place upon students. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, English tutor at Oxford University, says: "Inevitably, anxiety is sometimes voiced that students are now so used to typing they can't cope with a three-hour handwritten exam."

    Students use keyboards almost exclusively for classwork, then are required to use pens and/or pencils on written essays during exam times. Apparently, that makes their hands hurt and slows down their ability to answer questions. Continue reading

  • 6 Simple Steps to Christmas 'Thank You' Notes

    Now that the fun part – tearing open all those wonderful gifts – is over, it's time to start thinking about saying 'thank you' to the people who put time, effort and money into making your holiday special.

    Yes, writing a stack of notes can be tedious, especially if there are a lot of them. But it's the right thing to do, and it doesn't have to be a complete chore.

    Simplify the process with these quick steps: Continue reading

  • Conversations About Handwriting

    • Researchers at a U.S. university are working with the FBI to compile a database of donated handwriting samples to use in handwriting analysis programs.

    It's being run through the English Department of West Virginia University, which is conducting two-hour "collection sessions" with volunteers.

    From the university's website:

    The goal is to compile an anonymous data set to be used by WVU and the FBI to study handwriting and the unique characteristics of writing styles. Handwriting can profile human behavior in the areas of social skills, thinking styles, work habits and the way persons deal with stress. Handwriting is a unique snapshot of an individual’s current state of mind, body and feelings. Continue reading

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