How technology impacts the way people write

Nietzsche wrote on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball // How technology impacts the way people write
How technology impacts the way people write
How technology impacts the way people write

From Nietzsche’s Writing Ball, to Stephen King’s typewriter, to Steve Jobs’ Macintosh and iPhone, technology has changed the way we write.

Describes Matthew Kirschenbaum in The New Republic:

“Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.

It’s well-known that Nietzsche acquired the Writing Ball to compensate for his failing eyesight. Working by touch, he used it to compose terse, aphoristic phrasings exactly like that oft-quoted pronouncement. Our writing instruments, he suggested, are not just conveniences or contrivances for the expression of ideas; they actively shape the limits and expanse of what we have to say. Not only do we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon because they each feel different in our hands, we write (and think) different kinds of things.

I like to believe that my best writing appears in long-form first. Writing by hand produces this magical experience of disfluency, where the brain moves swiftly with the pen in synchronicity.

Writing on the computer, on the other hand, tends to make me overtype and therefore edit most of my words. However, I have noticed that drafting a note on the phone with one hand typically produces something more thoughtful than typing two-handed on a desktop.

Whether we write with a digital device, pen, or pencil “we become what we behold,” Marshall McLuhan reminds us, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

Responsive Design (By Wilson Miner)

Wilson Miner – When We Build from Build on Vimeo.

Art gives meaning to empty space.

Humans are tool builders that create the world they want to live in.  New creations, or mediums, create completely different environments.  Sometimes design is clearly expressed to the creator yet  invisibile. As Wilson notes in his presentation, ”You perceive the energy of color even when you don’t see anything.”

Today’s developments spread much faster than previous technologies.  YouTube took less than 6 months to reach 50 million people, the iPhone took less than 3 years.  Radio took 40 years.  What you think is cool right now will be arcane tomorrow.

Quotes featured in the video:

The artist is always a jump ahead of technology. – Marshall McLuhan

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us. – Marshall McLuhan

The computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with.  And it’s the equivalent of bicycles for our minds. – Steve Jobs

When we build, let us think that we build forever.  – Josh Ruskin

 The medium is the message.