Tuesday, 2 August 2011

From Slate to Smart Phone

I have just been listening to a very interesting programme on BBC Business about the rivalry between two German pencil manufacturers; Staedtler and Faber Castell. Both have a centuries old tradition of the craft of pencil making and remain at the forefront of the business.

It reminded me that my first attempts at writing took place on a slate with apiece of chalk.  After World War Two when I was born I guess pencils from Germany and the rest of UK / Europe were in short supply, chewed up in the mouths of anxious army clerks by the boxful.

The expression 'wipe the slate clean' is meaningful to those of use who literally did so. The new entrants classroom at age five meant a change of writing tool and wooden desks with ceramic inkwell holders. These holders were cracked and stained with ink giving the impression of what I later came to appreciate as precious Chinese Ge ware, although of course our receptacles were anything but.

Laborious copying of text using pencils came first and later, the use of dip pens and ink when we were taught the beauty of cursive script.

How technology has moved in one short lifetime.  In the age of smart phones hand gestures such as wiping are digitised and thumbs 'text' at a speed faster than the old nib pen of my early school days could ever have traveled.
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