The physical act of writing

April 6, 2011 § 4 Comments

Everybody, from thinkers and writers to newspapers and blogs, is talking about the future of writing in cyberspace. We have seen various examples of hypertext fiction and everybody, not just cultural studies and visual culture students, came across with terms such as hypertextuality, multivocality, non-linearity and understood their multiple meanings.

But what about the physicality of writing? The act of writing? Things have changed: we used to hold a a pen or a pencil, then type on a typewriter and, then, on the keyboard of a computer, and, most recently, we started interacting with a touch screen. Have all these changes altered our perception of writing? And more significantly our way of thinking? Is writing always intermediated by the medium?

Typewriter aficionados claim that writing on a typewriter gives you time to think and concentrate, since you cannot check at the same time your email or Twitter account. On the other hand, one could easily say that a touch screen brings us back to a more tactile experience of writing. And I keep wondering if new gadgets, such as this typewriter stand for the iPad, keep appearing as a sign of nostalgia for the past or as functional tools of the future.


These are just thoughts. I have no answer or any insight. We will have to wait and see, I suppose.

Photos of vintage typewriters, courtesy of the New York Times

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