17 votes

How the ballpoint pen killed cursive

13 comments

  1. [7]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    That's actually an interesting point about the positioning and ink flow making huge differences in writing. I always wrote like crap, and didn't make any serious chnages until I bought some...

    That's actually an interesting point about the positioning and ink flow making huge differences in writing. I always wrote like crap, and didn't make any serious chnages until I bought some fountain pens to take notes with. All the writing was killing my hand, it was less bad with the minor adaptations needed for a fountain pen. I ultimately went back to gel ball point because I didn't like the risk of splashing ink on my neighbor or my pants.

    I think preserving the skill of writing legibly by hand is important, but specific script? Not as much. I see the utility in teaching it, or learning scripts for aesthetics, but not as some sort of cultural bastion. An example of perfect Palmerian script is even so fundamentally different from how my script looks, and any script I've seen, that it may as well be Russian, even if I can read it, while scripts like Fraktur, which I've got no real experience with, seem to make more sense to me to read, despite being aesthetic (aka: calligraphy) instead of functional. Ultimately, I think there's a reason people adapt to writing non-cursive, or even block lettering (which my dad still does 36 years after three years in the US Army).

    8 votes
    1. [6]
      arp242
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Is that because of the fountain pen or because you also started to more consciously pay attention to your handwriting at the same time? At any rate, my handwriting is terrible with both fountain...

      I always wrote like crap, and didn't make any serious chnages until I bought some fountain pens to take notes with

      Is that because of the fountain pen or because you also started to more consciously pay attention to your handwriting at the same time?

      At any rate, my handwriting is terrible with both fountain pens and ballpoint pens; although I can certainly underscore that ballpoint pens are more tiring to write longer texts with. Then again, I used to have ink stains pretty much on my backside at school, so that clearly wasn't perfect either.

      So both options suck, just in different ways. Perhaps the real takeaway here is that there is still plenty of space for future innovation and improvements for something as simple and humble as the pen :-)

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        dredmorbius
        Link Parent
        A fountain pen has far less resistance to motion over paper than a ballpoint. A really good gel rollerball comes close but cannot compare.

        A fountain pen has far less resistance to motion over paper than a ballpoint. A really good gel rollerball comes close but cannot compare.

        5 votes
        1. [4]
          arp242
          Link Parent
          Yes, I don't think I said that it doesn't?

          Yes, I don't think I said that it doesn't?

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            wervenyt
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            For a lot of people, that significantly lower friction makes the difference when it comes to their handwriting. Sometimes because it allows those who have a greater degree of discomfort with the...

            For a lot of people, that significantly lower friction makes the difference when it comes to their handwriting. Sometimes because it allows those who have a greater degree of discomfort with the required pressure to find joy in the act of writing itself, and sometimes just by making it easier to form the shapes. I'd guess that was what they were getting at.

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              mrbig
              Link Parent
              This certainly made me consider trying a fountain pen. I only study offline both for practical and concentration reasons.

              This certainly made me consider trying a fountain pen. I only study offline both for practical and concentration reasons.

              1. spctrvl
                Link Parent
                You should! Just get a couple of the disposable pilot ones to try out, they're pretty cheap.

                You should! Just get a couple of the disposable pilot ones to try out, they're pretty cheap.

                2 votes
  2. MimicSquid
    Link
    Well, that explains why my cursive practice was a torture unlike any other school experience I ever had.

    Well, that explains why my cursive practice was a torture unlike any other school experience I ever had.

    4 votes
  3. [2]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    This is all true in terms of fountain vs. ballpoint, but is cursive writing still taught/encouraged in elementary schools? I imagine that would have a much larger impact than the choice of pen....

    This is all true in terms of fountain vs. ballpoint, but is cursive writing still taught/encouraged in elementary schools? I imagine that would have a much larger impact than the choice of pen. I've not heard of this death of cursive outside of the US anywhere near as much, which makes me suspect it's more of a cultural thing (computer ubiquity at young ages in USA and possibly other developed countries would play into that).

    3 votes
    1. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      It is most certainly cultural and also reflects a country's level of technology adoption and economic prosperity. Just to give you an example, 25% of Brazilians have no internet access, and 43% of...

      It is most certainly cultural and also reflects a country's level of technology adoption and economic prosperity.

      Just to give you an example, 25% of Brazilians have no internet access, and 43% of our homes did not have a computer in 2014.

      I never heard of schools dropping cursive around here.

      5 votes
  4. [3]
    Emerald_Knight
    Link
    Probably because in order to do joined writing quickly, you need extensive amounts of practice? I know how to write in cursive, but it takes a lot of time to think about how to properly connect...

    Comparing unjoined print to joined writing, she points out that “separate letters can seldom be as fast as joined ones.” So if joined handwriting is supposed to be faster, why would I switch away from it at a time when I most needed to write quickly?

    Probably because in order to do joined writing quickly, you need extensive amounts of practice? I know how to write in cursive, but it takes a lot of time to think about how to properly connect two letters together and get each part of the letter flowing in the correct direction. Without having extensive practice, it's an incredible mental burden that you have to contend with while also having the mental burden of keeping your intended message in your head as you write it out. This makes joined writing significantly slower for unpracticed hands than simple, disjointed print.

    It's like looking at hotdog eating contests and wondering why your average person doesn't just eat hotdogs whole. Yeah, sure, the fastest way to eat a hotdog is to swallow it whole, but if you haven't practiced doing that, you're just going to end up choking on it. For most of us amateurs out in the wild, it's just easier to eat them one bite at a time.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      wervenyt
      Link Parent
      Handwriting is the sort of thing that definitely seems worthy of practice to me, if you write more than once a year.

      Handwriting is the sort of thing that definitely seems worthy of practice to me, if you write more than once a year.

      2 votes
      1. Emerald_Knight
        Link Parent
        Certainly not a consideration for me. I love the tactile nature of writing, but being unable to e.g. cut and paste sections of text and rearrange them, or search for key terms in an instant, or...

        Certainly not a consideration for me. I love the tactile nature of writing, but being unable to e.g. cut and paste sections of text and rearrange them, or search for key terms in an instant, or instantly back up multiple versions of things I write, or share the things I write with others, are all a non-exhaustive set of reasons that make physical handwriting non-ideal for me. I tend to save using physical mediums for whiteboard sessions when I'm brainstorming ideas or diagramming something important, as it's usually much faster than trying to manipulate some complicated piece of software to achieve the same result. Convenience is the primary factor I consider when selecting my medium of choice.

        To each their own, of course :)

        4 votes