Is it becoming obsolete?
I have no nostalgia for it, myself. I’ve always considered dragging a writing implement across paper to be sheer physical drudgery, and if I didn’t have a keyboard, I wouldn’t be a writer.
This is the key point:
Although these historical tidbits are fascinating—the chapter on the absurdly indecipherable script prevalent in Germany before Hitler banned it helps demonstrate how arbitrary and cultural our writing conventions are—they have one point in common. Every innovation in handwriting was designed to improve the speed and legibility of human communication. And here is where Hensher’s quixotic defense of the hand stumbles. For what is faster and clearer than typing? Weren’t you slightly relieved when the handwritten paragraphs in this review came to an end, leaving you on the sturdy shores of a new thought expressed in Microsoft Verdana? Isn’t it easier to catch my meaning, to pay attention, when you are staring at a nice clean block of type?
My emphasis. The other issue that she doesn’t really get into is that by “handwriting,” what is really being discussed here is cursive script, which I learned as a child, but abandoned for just printing around junior high, because I found it too time consuming. I never bought, and still don’t buy, the notion that by eliminating the need to lift the pen, it somehow sped up the process. Both my printing and my cursive are illegible to anyone but me, but printing goes faster, because I don’t have to spend time worrying about the loops and flourishes. I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but when I took my GRE, it said that I had to write (not print) a pledge on the cover. It had been so long since I’d written cursive that it took me a couple minutes to slowly remember how to form the letters in the single sentence required.
I do think that being able to write down thoughts, old school, traditional tech, will always be a valuable skill (well, barring the Singularity). But there’s no reason for most kids to learn cursive these days. That could just be a hobby or art, like calligraphy. Typing is a much more important skill.