The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Pity the modern American gradeschool student. They've had computer keyboards at their fingertips practically since birth, and so haven't had to funnel much energy into penmanship. Now that neglect bites them back, as the impending longhand essays on the SAT and ACT has many a chicken-scratchin' kid sweating.

Is this along the same line of thinking that suggests people will someday no longer be able to read traditional minute-hand/second-hand clock faces, thanks to the proliferation of digital timepieces?

I know the experience of handwriting anything more than a Post-It® Note is now a novelty for me. Still, I occasionally do indulge in that novelty, just for a break from the keyboard/monitor combo.

I wonder how this decline in handwriting skills will affect future development in handwriting-recognition technology. Is there any real point in trying to make it any better, when people grow up so accustomed to using a keyboard? I know PDAs, which use some form of handwriting recognition, are on their way to obsolescense, so no big loss there. But Microsoft's Tablet PC concept is largely built around the idea that users want to input with a stylus instead of pecking at keys. News like this might make that effort an eventual dead-end.