By Handwritten Letters, Oct 23 2014 11:09AM
A scribe is someone who copies or transcribes documents or manuscripts by hand. Particularly prevalent in medieval times, the profession was found in some form in most literate cultures, but ceased to be of importance when the mass printed word arrived.
Contrast the necessity of the scribe in medieval times, where there was no such thing as the printed word and most of the population could not write by hand, with our media rich world. Today, we are swamped by the printed word, in magazines, leaflets, books and newspapers.
Printers, photocopiers and emails generate millions of printed words every day.
And so we are witnessing a trend back to the future, to the handcrafted, the handwritten and the personal.
I was struck a few weeks ago by an article in The Times by James Dean, about handwriting robot scribes in America (where else!). Some greeting card firms there are using handwriting robots that have been designed to hold a real pen and to mimic the real handwriting styles of humans, in response to the increased popularity of handwritten notes.
Dean reports that the robots write at the same speed as a human and don’t make mistakes.
The article also reports that there are 3 ways to spot fakes, when something that looks as though it has been written by hand, has actually been ‘handwritten’ by a robot scribe.
Apparently the uniformity of the writing gives it away.
1. Dots on the “i”s will always be in exactly the same place
2. Pressure of ink on the page will be uniform
3. Margins on the left will be straight
Human handwriting however, is not precise. Dots on “i”s will vary, ink will be more transparent in the centre of pen strokes and margins on the left will slant, because humans ‘push each new line further to the right of the page before they end each paragraph’.
It appears that we also write so that the right hand margins are ‘rounded’, because we worry about running out of space on every new line.
The argument for the handwriting robots is that there can be 50 or more writing at any time, mass producing greetings cards and other communications, uniformly and without error.
But surely that defeats the object? A handwritten note takes time, isn’t mass produced and may contain irregularities or even a mistake! That’s what separates the robots from the humans.