Do You Think Better When You Type Or When Your Write By Hand?

from the or-is-it-just-different? dept

Clive Thompson pulls out part of a NY Times article on how handwriting skills are declining in the age of the keyboard, and wonders whether or not people think better when writing by hand or by keyboard. What seems clear to him is that he does things differently whether he’s typing or writing by hand — and each has different benefits. He’s much faster at typing, so in interviewing someone, he can get down everything they say and pick out the important stuff later. When writing an interview by hand, he has to focus in on the high points on the fly. Writing, though, let’s him draw easy connections between concepts by allowing him to be more visual — something that can be difficult when taking notes on a computer. It’s an interesting question. Personally, I find it much easier to take notes by hand when in a meeting, rather than using a computer — partly because it forces me to pull out the important points. If I’m just typing, I start to type everything and not really pay attention to what’s being said.

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Comments on “Do You Think Better When You Type Or When Your Write By Hand?”

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Muse (user link) says:


I write and type slower than I think.
Fortunately for me there are Flash mp3players/recorders. I use that to babble to when I get ideas.
After Dragon converts it to text, I review the text and find the pearl.

The result is sometimes a gem.
The text (and droodle) let my ideas escape into the light!
Perhaps this way allows the ideas to flow without being lost. Some times a crazy idea turns out to be the best.
How do you do create messages/articles/ notes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Notes vs. long text

I’ve been using computers in my work for about 20 years, so I can type very quickly without thinking about it — but my handwriting has gone to Hell. I never write anymore except to scribble quick notes. It’s weird when I try to write something longer and more neatly, and realize I just don’t have the finger-thumb coordination for it anymore.

For that reason, typing is much better than writing for me for text of any length. On the other hand, for jotting down a quick note, there’s still nothing easier than pen & paper. (And it doesn’t produce those distracting key-click noises when you do it during a meeting.)

Tim (user link) says:

Re: Notes vs. long text

Yeah, I’ve been using them for ages, although my scrawl was nothing to write home about before then, either.

I had quite a long phase of taking simple notebook & pen into meetings at work, and was probably the most efficient at getting my weekly updates and to-do lists organized; but now I’ve gone Mac and the wifi Just Works(TM), well, gotta take that into meetings instead and play silly games instead, far more fun 😉

thecaptain says:

IT techs are the new doctors...

Remember the bad jokes of yesteryear about doctors having incredibly bad handwriting?

These days its programmers and IT people.

I’m on a keyboard all day and a lot of the evening. I can type MUCH faster and easier than I write longhand (and my handwriting is atrocious). When I relax and work on my novel, I find that typing on the laptop I can follow my train of thought much easier compared to writing longhand which is slow and allows for too much rethinking, leading me to sometimes lose my original thought. On the keyboard, things just flow.

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

different modalities

I’ve been composing at the keyboard for over 25 years. I can’t imagine doing otherwise. But like you Mike, I take written notes. I also edit in pen on a printout — even code — because that process is cognitively and structurally different. This is consistent with what one of the commentators said to your referenced article.

Perhaps the pendulum is swinging the other way. My child is in a bilingual school — actually polyglot; they are required to be fluent in four languages (including English) by the end of Grade 4. They learn only two printed alphabets, but they learn the “cursive” form of each language’s alphabet separately (one of them has two common cursive forms). No pencils either after the end of Grade 1; only fountain pens (I had never even known that there were special children’s fountain pens!).

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