Writing != Typing

· Weblog Concepts

It occurred to me today that the way I write by hand is very different from the way I do it with a keyboard. I’m not just talking about the mechanics here, although that plays in to it. I’m lefthanded. Writing longhand seems to bring out a kind of writing that feels different from what I type. There’s a time element as well: learned cursive at one age, typing at a later age.
Maybe typing engages both halves of my brain? It would be hard to write script, a single text, with both hands. The man-machine (“cybernetic”) interface has been around a long time. The piano and its predecessors were already little musical-instrument generator/computer type devices, with their pads and notes all lined up in a row. The people who came up with QWERTY made some effort (tales vary) to spread the key letters around, so that typing would engage both hands, some say to slow the user down.
But the fascination these days with implants and chips, whether for therapeutic purposes or to pioneer cyborgian lifeforms, misses the point that the man-machine interface has been around for a long time. This is not just being written by me (“I do not know which one of us wrote this.”). The computer, the browser, Dave Winer’s user interface, the publishing infrastructure—they are all playing a part to cultivate a certain kind of writing from, different from what I write by hand in my private notebook here by my speaker. I once said, or wish I had, that e-mail is telepathy version 1.0. The blogosphere makes/helps us say things that might not otherwise be said, out loud, in public, with comments.