November 24, 2015

Penmanship Digitised - Why bother?

Play with Fonts and the Design of Writing

I checked out the DigiWriMo Resources Sheet for some ideas. Here is a way to get your own handwriting as a font on your computer. Sounds simple so let's give a try.

1. Go to and print out the template.
2. Follow the instructions to get an alphabet sheet with your handwriting
3. Scan it back into myscriptfont and lastly
4. Install the new font on your computer

Here is the same message that I have handwritten:

One of the clear areas of failure for this is the relationship between letters. When I was writing the 'alphabet sheet' I had to hesitate at "b". I write this letter differently depending on what comes after it. As my hand writing is a mix of print and joining it would take quite a few "alphabet sheets" to interpret that correctly.

Perhaps the attraction of handwriting is that it is one of the first ways we learn to communicate with others that are not physically located with us. However with my son we are using a mix of writing (for Grandma), audio (for Aunty with smartphone) and video (for that smart-Aunty). Mind you, Grandma is quite good at handwriting, getting it scanned and then emailed - the quick version of hand writing. He can't read yet but he might come to value those hand written letters as much as I do. I can count on one hand the amount of hand written communication I have received in the last 12 months.

Why bother?

Why bother trying to recreate our hand writing?
In a recent Hangout we talked about how receiving a hand written letter means much more than some online writing and connections. Can we replicate that through digitisation....the above example says "no" to me but Kevin Hodgson says "maybe we are just not there yet". From a recent Twitter chat this subject came up again. Here are some quotes:

On the flip side there is the revival of drawing, colouring in (mindfully) and sketchnotes. Sketchnotes are a way of taking your lecture notes in the visual form. Encouraging adults to put their thoughts on paper in a form that can compliment text. David Hopkins, who shares his journey in sketchnotes, recently posted Ideas for Sketchnotes which suggests you can use the digital to search for ideas on how to write! Kind of ironic really. Like you need a website to tell you how to draw 'wavy'? Or you can hit Control+I and your handwriting will all of a sudden fall over on one side. Maybe that is an indication of how far removed we are from our own imagination? Or is it a desire to replicate the digital that we are more familiar with than our own unique penmanship.

A recent post from Nick Sousanis gives me energy to even try to draw how I think, the layers, the complexity, the apparent unrelatedness of thoughts, the themes and the sub themes that overlap and underly the day. In letter writing this comes out as sequential lines of text or in the case of my mothers letter a monologue of the events of the week.

Terry Elliot's handwritten messages like Charlene's Birthday was also an inspiration when I was thinking about this. This real-time recording of a handwritten message is another way to get the personal touch in the message.

With Karen Fasimpaur postcard project she encourages us to pick up our pen and connect with people through the handwritten medium when all our past connect with that person may have been just digital.

This discussion can also move into the argument about whether the technology pushes you or you push the technology. Another post. Please share your own thoughts as comments on this blog.