I wanted to post this topic almost as soon as I ventured on this forum and found it wasn't here.
I have always found it interesting how artist talk about how computers and other technology have changed the visual arts (Tablet versus mouse, and which of the drawing programs is best, et cetera), but very little discussion is ever payed toward technology's effect on the written arts. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time before Word and OpenOffice! Before Notepad, even before the keyboard! Software and hardware have both made great changes to the physical writing process, and I wanted to start a discussion about how, and if it's for the better or worse.
Personally, I find that there is a very different feel when I try to write with a pencil, as opposed to a keyboard. There's something comforting, to me, about stopping to sharpen every now and then. Being able to curl up anywhere with a notebook on my knee and a simple sharpener can afford much more freedom than even a laptop, allowing you to go out to nature without having to worry about loosing power. Even the pencil itself I find slightly symbolic; the cone shape symbolizing the mess of thoughts in your mind being concentrated and focused, until they come out sharp and defined. Editing becomes a semi-visual process; I know I usually made half my symbols up on the fly, as they fit the situation.
Conversely, keyboards simplify many, many things. Legibility is taken out of the equation, freeing you to focus more on what you're writing rather than how you're writing it. And editing in both the moment and in retrospect becomes much simpler; instead of an entire re-write changes can be made quickly, simply, and without hassle. Formatting, I find, almost becomes fun, toggling settings and changing fonts. Even emphasis is made easy; I know I never could make convincing italics by hand.
I want to hear your thoughts on this, which you prefer, and how you think the medium changes the writing.
We have enough people who tell it like it is;
we need more people who tell it like it should be.
--My motto for life.