Allan Takes Aim Blog

Signs not words are the future

Posted on: 25 January 2012


This is an extended version of the column posted in The Chronicle Canberra Tuesday 24 January 2012.

From time to time I’ve come across articles in which writers forecast the end of handwriting becauser computers, mobile phones, tablets (keep that word in mind ) and voice recognition technology are pushing it to the point of extinction at an ever increasing rate.

They may well be right but what worries me more is not the end of handwriting but the end of words we use when writing. More worrying still is their failure to put a date on when they think this extinction will take place. Indeed, and depending on the writer, the date varies from eons to centuries.

So let me state my personal preference: if it is going to happen I hope it happens sooner rather than later and preferably before the start of a Christmas season. Anything that makes it un-necessary for me to handwrite dozens of Christmas cards will be a blessing in disguise.

But let me be frank about the demise of handwriting; by the end of the next century people will be talking about how technology caused the demise of handwriting in the same way as we talk tday about the demise of the dinosaurs. For example, their Tyranosaurus Rex will be the Commodore 64 et al.

Among the et al, will be the various computers that killed off older computers with everyone who helped develop a new computer claiming it was the best. Unfortunately for them, just as the T-Rex Commdore was overwhelmed by a new computer each sucessive computer met the same fate: they became redundant.

Examples of the technology that will help cause the demise of handwriting are: the world wide web, e-mail, texting, twitter, facebook, you tube; skype, along with many other technological developements that at present we cannot even begin to imagine. Computer operated TV, fridges and sundry other items that the present generation ooh -ah over, willl be old hat.

Importantly however, people will no longer need to worry about where the power will come from to run these appliances: fusion energy will have arrived. Fusion energy of course, is not technology that will become redundant. If it did there would be no world to live in because that means the sun would have shut down.

But I won’t get on to fusion energy but return to handwriting. And while handwriting as we know it will have ceased there will still be handwriting of a kind. Fortunately too, some old adges will remain also because as people will still talk, the saying there’s many a slip twixt lip and cup will still be in use as will ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.’ That these sayings will still be around is only because humans won’t have become redundant. Unfortunately, some of them will still become politicians.

And though hand writing of a kind will remain there’s every possibility that in the next century many of the words we use today will ceased to have meaning. The suggestion is not as silly as you think. With regard to the writing of words I think many of you will be familiar with the phrase ‘what goes around comes around.’

In my opinion we are headed into a second age of cuneiform writing similar to Sumerian cuneiform, which dates back to c.3300 BCE. You’ll have seen those television programs where explorers erupt in excitement as they manage to decipher the cuneiform messages etched on the their walls – were cuneformists the first graffiti artists? Not for them page after page of words when one etched stone wall carried hundreds and hundreds of messages.

I don’t know what name to give the the new form of etching and so have settled for ‘compuglyphs.’

While you might say all this is nonsense, it isn’t. Take a look around you at signs that don’t use words but give you messages without words. For example: no smoking, speed bump, blind corner, cattle grid and that’s only a few; there are thousands more

And if that’s not proof enough, take a look at your mobile phone. I’ve just taken a look at mine and found fourteen hieroglyphic signs that have replaced words. And that’s just the advance guard from the growing lexicon of compuglyphs.

dca@netspeed.com.au

The Chronicle for the best of Canberra Community news. Published every Tuesday.
By the way if ever you want to send a letter to The Chronicle send it to: letters@chronicle.com.au

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27 Responses to "Signs not words are the future"

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