Useless Skills, Part 2: Making Pretty Squiggly Lines
In my last post, I said that using the ‘pen’ is stupid. Because its an obsolete device used to make squiggly lines on thin slices of dead trees. And also because there is a better technology available – called the keyboard. There is another aspect of ‘writing’ that no longer needed – the handwriting – or specifically, a good handwriting.
Just to be clear, writing is the method of making squiggly lines using pens. The lines should not only be squiggly – but also be squiggly in a very specific ways. Many teachers insist that your squiggly lines must be good looking. They call it having a ‘good handwriting’. I have tried to explain that ‘looking good’ is very subjective and will differ from person to person – but they will have none of it.
Due to this friction between the teachers and myself, I had, what they would emphatically claim to be a bad handwriting. Even un-biased third-party judges called it a ‘horrible, un-understandable chaos’. But it was not all bad – as a matter of fact, my handwriting won an award. My handwriting got the 2nd best encryption award from the Indian navy. I thought they were being unfair – I obviously deserved the first price. But they proved that their ruling was correct. My handwriting could be decrypted by only just one person – the original author – namely, myself. The handwriting which won the best encryption prize could not be read by anymore.
The Future of the Pen – or Lack Thereof
Nowadays, good handwriting is meaningless – all that matters is your choice of font. The pressure with which you hit a key, the angle of the pressure, the hand posture of typing – they all mean nothing. As long as the character appears on the screen, you have the same handwriting as the best writer on earth. Its not how you write that matters – its what you write. Now, if only someone could make the teachers understand this simple fact.
Even though the pen is obsolete, it still has its uses. For me, that is signing checks. And other documents. And empty pieces of paper to make sure my sign looks cool. But mostly checks.
I have tried to convice banks that physical squiggly-line method of signing is unsafe. That a much better method of doing it is signing it using private keys with 4096 bit, munition grade keys generated using the DSA/Elgamal algorithm. But as of yet, I have no progress in that front. But I will keep up the fight. One day, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day – I will be able to stand up and say, “the keyboard is mightier than the sword”.