Quill Pen

Pen and paper or keyboard and screen…

…that is the question! 

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Being a pro writer, I must admit that I am more of a pro typist because 90 percent of the stuff I write I actually type. 

Back in 1993, when I was a foreign exchange student at Baylor University in Waco, TX, I completed a blind printing course. It was a must for American students. Something very unknown for an eighteen-year-old shy guy from the former USSR. This is how I learned to type using my ten fingers without taking a look at the keyboard. 

Interestingly enough, I first learned blind printing in English. When I got back home to Moscow, I used a Cyrillic typing program, becoming a bi-typist, if you don’t mind such a word. So now, depending on the language I type, I run English or Russian blind printing systems, using the same keyboard but remembering different configurations. It works fine either way. I can switch from one configuration to another on the fly. It is just in my brain and my finger mechanical memory. Sometimes I feel like a well-taught monkey, though.

Computer Keyboard

These skills helped me so much in my life because from then on I could type very fast. First, I typed my paper works at the university, when I was still a student. Then ‘fast’ began to mean ‘money’ to me when I eventually became a copywriter, producing volumes of printed stuff in a short time. This is very useful stuff, believe me.

I also engage the Notes application on my smartphone to put down things I need to remember by using this fantastic touchscreen technology. In this case, though, I tap, not type.

However, I sometimes need a pen and paper. I plan my daily activities by listing them, and I do this organizing work using the old-school pen. It just feels more… natural, plus I don’t need a laptop to plan my things to do, just because good old paper fits much better for quick notes. 

Overall, typing holds the upper hand… technology rules.

Pen and Paper, or Keyboard and Screen?

Roger Bara

When Mrs B and I were courting, and that word tells you how long ago it was, we lived a mere nine miles apart. But we could not communicate by phone – mobiles were some three decades away from being mainstream, and we couldn’t use the landline. We had a “shared” phone system, which meant the household with whom we were sharing the line could listen in to every conversation. The intimacy of what young lovers would discuss was simply not for other ears!

So, it was pen and paper – yes, we wrote to each other by letter. (And they say romance is dead..).  Off to the Post Office, buy a stamp, and post the letter in one of our famous red pillar-boxes. A day or two later, my now wife of 49 years would be the beneficiary of a love-letter, and would, hopefully, respond immediately, meaning I would get a reply some four days after posting mine.

UK "post" style mailbox

Today, we would probably have messaged each other in Messenger, used our secure email accounts, or of course, used our own personal mobile phones.

But one of my old-fashioned habits still persist in my day-to-day life. I still use a real diary in which I use a pencil or pen to put down my appointments, birthdays, party times and other important information, like when the mighty Arsenal are playing, against whom, and what time is kick-off. The electronic versions leave me cold, probably because I don’t use them properly. And doodling with a pen is so much easier than using a keyboard.

But that’s the exception. Most other things, like writing this blog, I use the keyboard and screen. I am happy reading books with my Kindle. I need my Kindle. By page 20 of a novel, I am already forgetting who is who and can search instantly to find out previous references to each character. Try doing that with a real book. It can take hours. 

That means that basically, I’m really  a K and S man, but if I glance to my right, my office desk has a wide variety of real writing gadgets. 

Pen & Paper or Keyboard & Screen

Photograph of Dean Lewis

Being long of tooth and short on hair, I can remember when computers first became widespread in business. My wife worked at PBS (the American public broadcasting TV network), as desktop computers were being rolled out for the first time. There was a new headquarters building in Washington with a computer on every desktop. 

The IT Department told upper management that this new network would dramatically cut paper usage across the organization. No more paper notes going from office to office. In fact, paper usage went up. People started printing off all kinds of papers and putting them in binders. Soon there were five-hundred sheet reams of white copy paper in every desk. I bet you even have a ream at your house.

I cannot tell you when I last wrote a paper letter. This is really too bad because there is something warm and personal about a hand written letter. I must not be alone in not writing these notes because I cannot remember the last time I received one.

Old Computer

I understand this has devastated postal systems around the world. Now, the postman only brings bills and junk-mail. I’m tempted to say this shows my age… but no, I’m sure of my opinion; receiving a hand written letter is a superior experience. Until you realize these thoughts are now two or three days old. 

Email takes maybe three seconds to transit and most servers do something called a cron job once per minute. There are two main formats, called protocols. The destination has something called an IP address (like the street address for that paper letter) that must be found and the letter routed to several intermediate servers. It’s an amazing system and the wonder is that it works at all.

While I am a fan of the handwritten letter, I must confess to only using email. Too bad. Now, one area where my age shows and I don’t care is the text message. I simply refuse to type U if I mean you. I’m nobody’s grammar queen but I must draw the line somewhere. IDK, IMO u shd say what u mean.