January 16, 2010

The handwritten

The handwritten

Notes on notes.

Opening a note, the other day, from someone. It was something — an object — that was a carrying of the touch of that person. A notation, a missive, an expression. It’s interesting, the idea of handwritten, the touch, the inner workings of that person, spilled on paper. What I note, in actually integrating the work of the hand in the brands that we strategize and develop, is that the hand made character can add a dimensionality that can be telling. In the ease of the clinically digital, the hand can be a point of difference. To the truth of that, everyone at Girvin must — literally, by hand — sign each of their cards; and in looking at the cards of the teams, during presentations and opening meetings and exchanges, it’s fascinating to me to reflect on the character of the hand, the handwritten and the evocations of personality. It’s touching.

Flying to Stockholm, to work here this week, I was speaking with a woman who was traveling with a Kindle. I asked her, “what did she think — like it?” The “books, fast download — great,” she offered. But the feeling, to her memory of the experience of the book, holding one — there isn’t any feeling; it’s a technical device. Something is lost. And she worries about the “replacement of the book.” Bill Hill, expert in the design of strategy for Microsoft on the concept of digital books and screen accessibility believes that the book is almost perfectly designed, as an object of reading experience. Thousands of years later, it’s relatively unchanged.

The handwritten

In the work that I do, much of the outcome relates to feeling. Feeling design — brands that have emotional connectivity; they’re touchable, memorable, embraceable. While I’m fully invested in the digital realm, the form of how content traverses hybrid media, I’m still looking for touch.

So I found it interesting, in some now lost overview of what’s missing — what’s dying, in 2009 — one overview cited, as number 9, of 25, is the handwritten note. In speaking with someone that I worked with nearly 30 years ago, he’d mentioned, “you know, I’ve still got all of your handwritten notes to me — even your invoices!” I’m not suggesting that there’s any inherent value to my note, but to the value of the hand-made in communication. That list spreads, in a general sentiment about the loss of handwriting — cursive expressions — in culture generally speaking.

2004: 500 billion text messages
2006: 183 billion emails.
2007: 3.3 billion humans own mobile phones (and, from China alone 700 billion texted messages).
2008: 210 million emails every second.
2009: nearly 200 billion emails per day.

I’m not sure if I’ve got all the facts right, but there’s more here to explore, if you really want to get down to it.

I’m not preaching penmanship. I’m practicing touch. Do something that touches someone — that takes longer than a email blast. Hand a note to someone. It says something about you.

The handwritten

tsg | stockholm
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2 Responses to The handwritten

  1. The other day I was going through old documents my father left behind, and it is interesting to see that so many important “official” papers — certificates of baptism, diplomas, wedding licenses, etc. — were once upon a time handwritten and signed by actual human beings. It made me treasure these documents even more — there was a human touch that was still there on page, many decades later.
    So I just wanted to let you know that I agree about the importance of handwritten notes, and I fully intended to send you a written note to say so. But I didn’t have time. Or note paper. Or a pen.

  2. Tim,

    Thanks for the great post. Whenever I think of handwriting, the artistry of the hand, calligraphy, I think of letters, belles-lettres; I think of the connections that humans make with artifacts. The hand-written letter has so much more authentic power than the email.

    There is the same feeling with the brand… Authenticity is hand-wrought, not formulaic, it begins with feelings and remains with connections to other human beings. Does not the brand stop and fade if it is not animated by authenticity in one way or another? Isn’t it given life and rebirth by feeling and connection?


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