Written by THE Ogilvy. Preaching the truth about the creative process, distractions, and sometimes, the need for alcohol. Alas, I wish this site had a copy of this letter written in his own hand (since, apparently, he could not type).
My project is examining the role of handwriting in the digital age. Through history, the human impulse has been to leave our mark, and until the dawn of the internet, the most common way of doing that was handwriting. In fact, handwriting is so important to the human experience that our brains need it to learn—research has shown that there are neural pathways that only activate when we are writing. It has been shown to improve understanding, creative process, self-expression, and original thought.
But the prevalence of personal computing has allowed us to drift away from the ritualistic practice of handwriting and sketching; indeed, forced us away, because computers only understand typed words. And yet, they offer many benefits: searchability, accessibility, transportability, and sharability. So, we have made trade offs, and shifted our practices to accommodate technology.
I believe we are at the start of a backlash against technology’s increasing role in our lives, not unlike the Arts & Crafts period of the late 1800s, which was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution. The movement’s thought leader, William Morris, believed in “resistance in materials”—the idea that physical act of manipulating physical materials aids in creation—in fact, is necessary for creation.
I buy into this idea, especially as is relates to handwriting. But, I think there needs to be a better bridge between the digital and analog worlds. I crafting a self-expression engine whose primary input method is handwriting and sketching in order to promote handwriting as a valid and powerful tool for expression, problem solving, and sharing in the digital world.
I am not making something to compete with the sketchbook or journal; I am making something to compliment and extend them.
Friends, I need your help. I’ve interviewed several folks in person about their DIY, journaling, hacking, crafting, and art-making, but I want more input. Would you be so kind as to fill out a short, ten question survey about the things you make?
Bonus: If you give me your email address in the survey, I’ll put you in a random drawing to win $25 in cash. You gotta be in it to win it!
If you live in NYC and you love coffee, you should check out Coffee Common in the Start Up Store, at 19th and 10th. My favorite roaster, Ritual is featured, although my coffee-boyfriend, Kevin from the Hayes Valley SF shop, won’t be there to win you over—but the coffee takes care of that on its own.