Faded writings

Muhammad Ibrahim Ibne Towhid chronicles the history of handwriting

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Whether it is everyday handwriting or their personal signature, each person has their own unique style of handwriting. Even identical twins sharing appearance and genetics do not have the same handwriting. A person’s handwriting is tantamount to their fingerprints: people might be able to copy it, but never write it in an identical manner.

Experts are of the opinion that the place where one grows up and the first language one learns melt together with the different distribution of force and ways of shaping words to create a unique style of handwriting for each person.

As such, handwriting of a person can be used to verify the writer’s identity while the deterioration of a person’s handwriting is also a symptom or result of certain diseases.

Historians point out thatduring ancient times, people had less idea that writing needed to be invented and its invention has been the fruit of continuous advances, through a process that has lasted thousands of years and which has been progressively enriched by further developments.

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About 30-40,000 years ago, human beings started by drawing graffiti and paintings on rocks and walls of caves. One might find it interesting while watching western films where people trace cultures, civilisations and histories from the drawings on old age infrastructures particularly on the walls of the inside of the pyramid.

The beginning of writing is more or less from the same period that the oldest fragments of bones and pebbles with notches date from.There is not a unique origin of writing; it was independently born in different parts of the world. It is difficult to find out or prove about who first expressed thoughts in words for the first time.

However, today in the world of technological advancement people have been less in touch with handwriting as suggests people from different professions. Some parts of the world have advanced a lot with technology and even Bangladesh is going to be digital. People in general are not used to writing on paper but in electronic devices. Very few people maintain dairies, and some who love the habit have even shifted to preserving memories in the digital format.

Many schools, colleges and universities of the country are also giving away laptops to students. Although there are traditional note takings, use of note book and sitting for hours-long exams, many institutions are changing the year old practice.

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Courses are being introduced online and virtual classroom is becoming popular. Bangladesh has more than 10 popular online classrooms, India has been advertising the concept with special emphasis for the last two years. SriLanka and Pakistan are also appreciating the concept, as found in different reports,while the developed countries are way ahead for such steps.

It was just a decade back that offices had people only to type documents. There were institutes which taught people to type and the testimony of typing speed was mandatory for qualifying in the recruitment of many offices including various departments of the government.

These are now long gone with computer skills having become a compulsory category for most jobs. Looking back, the shift started from small tracing press which copied documents. Then there was carbon paperwhich is not in use much but just in small scale. Then emerged‘photo-copy’ machines followed byscanners, whichwere widely used to make multiple copy of the original document. But now even these are taking the backseat aspeople can just take a screenshot from their smart phones or capture the image of the script, thanks to the popularisation of the innovative multitasking mobile phones.

In a general survey done with the students of professional courses at different universities, it was found that currently, students struggletaking writing exams as they are less habituated with writing when compared to their seniors. Most of these current students complain that they have not written anything in days or weeks. More participants preferred on assignments where one needs to work with the keyboard and then take quizzes, MCQ tests and so on.

Now, anyone in their thirties and late-twenties can recall the days when there was a culture to buy new pens before the exams and draw circles in order to smoothen the ink.

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But, people at office regardless of the nature of work, do not write more than one page over the past few years. While talking to professionals of corporate houses, business institutes, government offices, journalists and many other people of diverse work fields it was learnt that they hardly write anything during work. Many say that they have nothing to write at all on papers. Some said that they take notes and prepare meeting minutes on electronic devices. Even teachers and researchers use the computer to prepare their works. Conducting lectures via audio-visual presentations projected from computer is now popular even in the rural education institutions.

One might wonder what innovation has been done with the technology. Even here people of different languages are coming up with their individual fonts to display uniqueness in their projected writing. There were just a few Bangla fonts, five years back. However the wide use of blogging and social media have encouraged some to come up with different Bangla fonts. But, the improvement in Bangla fonts is still a long way to go as suggested by linguistics experts. However, it might so happen in the future that every person has their own font.

Technology researchers also say that just after another decade, people might even wonder how the earlier generation used to carry out their daily activities while occupying one of their hands with smart phones. Over the next few years, technology will bring out devices where one does not have to work on the screen with their hand rather operate with their minds. The technology of artificial intelligence, hologram and 3D printers prove that that day is not far behind.

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The charms of writing letters especially love letters with ink, blood and all have become a past. Even now signatures are becoming digital. While talking to more than 100 people who have bank accounts, it was learnt that many face problems with their signatures. Bank officials complain that the signatures do not match. The common explanation of the people is that they do not have practice of signing documents as well. People who have retired from professions face the problem most and thanks to the email which authenticates the user and that signature in paper are not always needed to authenticate the command passed.

According to handwriting analysts, signatures can reveal a lot about ones personality – in both life and business. Whenever any new president of USA gets elected, experts come up with their thoughts to analyze handwriting.

Handwriting analysis is still a tricky business. At the moment, it’s up in the air as to whether the testimony of a handwriting analyst can be used in court cases, mostly because it’s hard to get a straightforward result from a piece of writing. But soon in the coming days this may also fade away.

 

Reader Base

Even two decades back, handwriting was regarded to be an important quality for most people in Bangladesh. New Age Xtra had asked readers why they think that this notion has changed over the years.

 

Reyad Hossain ArifReyad Hossain Arif

Due to technology, people’s perspective has changed about education, culture and society. Earlier, it used to be commended in job circulars that candidates with bad handwriting should not apply. Technology has come into the classrooms from primary level to university. Even students in nursery class are now learning from magic boards instead of blackboards. This is how we are changing and our practice of handwriting is diminishing.

 

Akmal HossainAkmal Hossain

Earlier, good handwriting was an important way to obtain good marks in examinations. But that era is gone now. I do believe that that phase should be brought back.

 

 

 

 

Kawsar NahidKawsar Nahid

Geater use of technology is the main factor behind this change. Earlier we were accustomed to write letters, diary, poems, stories etc using pen. But today we use technologies everywhere…We hardly write today unless we are bound to, like writing in examination or in other cases.

 

 

 

Saleah Mohammad SalimSaleah Mohammad Salim

Today education has changed. Parents now focus more on children’s results than their actual learning. So now mentality has changed. This is not a good sign for education…Most institutions no longer consider the beauty of handwriting, which is important for education. We need to reconsider this.

 

 

Mohammad Tarek Aziz BappiMohammad Tarek Aziz Bappi

The demand for good handwriting is waning. The multidimensional use of modern technologies are simply working behind the decreasing trend of evaluating handwriting as an important quality. The days of writing letters in communication have already passed… Actually these changing trends are the demands of time as using technologies in writing consumes less time, is more accurate , provides easy solution of editing and so on. We should still try to practice good handwriting.