Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Hand drawn

417 words

While Pierre is wroking hard to complete his masterpiece My first million favourite Word bugs and is working overtime thanks to the advent of this year’s edition of Office, Wil spotted a discouraging trend: Teachers telling off their pupils to the cover pages for their work ordentlich, i.e. tidily or properly – apparently implying that not-even-teenagers might be better off with the poor typography and possibly horrid clip-art offered by office suites. That’s sad.

Not that I don’t appreciate a well-done cover page, but there really are some situations in which it isn’t appropriate. Furthermore the kids will never learn to write neatly themselves, relying on computers whenever something needs to be legible. Are there studies concerning the change of handwritings over time?

My experience is that you’ll only be able to write neatly if you do it constantly. I’ll be able to write neatly and quickly at the end of terms with lots of notetaking and my writing will be worse after extended periods of mainly typing or after having been on holidays. Practice is a very important aspect of writing reasonably well.

And that’s not only for words but for drawings as well. We’re having one diagram or another in maths, and I still remember my very first seminar talk in which I had to prove the famous snake lemma using the nice technique of ‘diagram chasing’ which is fun to do. Upon preparing it the TA urged my to be aware that I am ‘not only expected to draw diagrams’ but to draw ‘straight diagrams’. And how on earth should people be able to draw straight lines if they’ve always used computers for that purpose?

So I am all for handwriting and like to keep mine reasonably in shape. I am always happy when my advisor tells me I can write up stuff for him in handwriting as it is legible. This saves quite a bit of time, particularly when many formulae are involved. (On the downside I tend to lose those notes later in the zillions of sheets of notes I have accumulated.)

While I am neither particularly talented nor trained at drawing (and I am told either helps quite a bit), I enjoyed making this invitation quite a lot (it was later scanned and distributed electroniclly ;) Sometimes I wish I had some training in these kinds of things – although I’ve been told that it requires a lot of patience and redoing things from scratch if they’re only 99% right.

June 3, 2004, 16:55

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