Brian Awehali 
Member since May 13, 2014


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Recent Comments

Re: “Slow Type

Without meaning to give specific offense, I feel there's been a skew to the comments on this article that might give readers the unfortunate -- and inaccurate -- impression that contemporary type-writers are quaint, impractical, outdated & likely to have entirely too much time on their hands for comment forums. Retirees, essentially, obsessed with bygone picayune matters. It's worth pointing out that the many people (publishing, working writers, etc.) who still produce their material on typewriters are *not* the people who populate online comment forums, and that those people are, by logical extension, underrepresented in these forums.

I don't think choosing a different sentence construction because of a typo is "creative" -- my article posits quite the opposite, when it comes to intentionality.

These comments -- Julia and Michael's excepted -- trivialize the substance of what I attempted: to illustrate (sans nostalgia or romantic ideation) the cognitive influence of rapid technological change, and what the implications are for our written expression. Subtlety, depth, and non-egoistic expression seem to have been lost in translation on the way to this comment forum and/or its moderation.

Here's a link to a list of type-writers, which counts among its members people like Tom Waits, David Foster Wallace (R.I.P.), Sam Shepherd, David Sedaris, Tom Robbins, Thomas Pynchon, Matt Groening, Nikki Giovanni, William Gaddis, Jonathan Franzen, Don Delillo, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, and Douglas Adams, to name just a fraction of the list: http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/typers.html. It should also include the undeniably modern artist Janelle Monae.

Posted by Brian Awehali on 06/03/2014 at 9:01 PM

Re: “Slow Type

Thanks for reading and commenting, Rick. I opted not to mention Dvorak because different studies show conflicting evidence about whether Dvorak is actually faster or better than QWERTY, and because the creator of the Dvorak keyboard layout, August Dvorak, damaged his and the layout's credibility by conducting seriously flawed, biased (and self-interested) experiments while he was with the U.S. Navy, then used these suspect tests to claim scientific proof for the superiority of his design.

- SEE: Wikipedia, "Dvorak: Controversies and criticisms": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard#Controversies_and_criticism

- and a longer article about the controversy, "The Fable of the Keys": https://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html

Posted by Brian Awehali on 05/28/2014 at 10:17 AM

Re: “Slow Type

Easy, rapid error correction is definitely a big deal, Judith. Not having that made me feel like screaming several times while I was working on this article.

I think it's hard to say writing is really about any *one* thing -- I know people who heavily revise and edit their work and others who don't. I also know at least a couple of people who outline by hand, on legal pads or index cards, before handwriting their first draft of something. (Research has shown that our memory retention is best with handwriting, so it makes some objective sense to do the formative stage of a draft this way.) After they've made their mark-ups, responded to their margin notes, etc., and generally feel like they have a solid first draft, they then type it up (on manual typewriters), giving themselves wide right margins for notes, and to create narrow, easier-to-read columns for themselves. They do some edits during the typing input phase, too, so that what they produced by hand is sharpened during this phase as well, and it's not just laborious, understimulating "input."

One of the people I'm referencing here uses correcting tape for errors, and the other seems perfectly at ease with thwacking a bunch of #'s or /'s over their errors. Then they do another round of edits and mark-ups, using their big right margins, and THEN -- after their piece has been through both handwriting and typewriting phases -- they key it into their computers.

They both report two things: The work they produce this way is superior, in terms of organization, clarity and concision (you're less likely to, um, bloviate, if you have to write something out by hand -- it's easer to indulge your momentum-driven fancies with speedy type), AND that they're a lot sharper when they finally do come to the computer editing and re-drafting process, because they haven't already been staring at the same screen for the entire time they've been working on a piece. It seems fresher to them.

I've tried to adopt some of these practices, and have found the process difficult but rewarding. I'm slower then they are because it's a newer process for me! I'm a two- or three-finger typist, not a touch-typist. But after several months, I already see improvement. The biggest plus, for me, is that it seems like I'm getting better at fully "seeing" an entire sentence or phrase *before* beginning to commit something to the page, so that I have less false starts. It just encourages me to be more careful and give more active thought to something before I write it.

And that pays dividends when I do something only on the computer, too. The computer keyboard also feels like air after I've been typing on a typewriter for a while, and my typing speed is *much* faster.

Posted by Brian Awehali on 05/13/2014 at 10:37 AM

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