Monday, March 26, 2012

Student reflections on typewriting (III)

Here is another student's essay about typewriting:

            For one of my communications assignments, I chose to type one of my class presentations using a typewriter. I believe that this was the first time that I had ever seen a typewriter in person, so using it to type out an entire presentation was an interesting and completely novel experience for me. Before I began working on my presentation, I played around with the typewriter a bit so that I could figure out how it worked before I began worrying about making mistakes. I found that how hard I pressed on the typewriter keys affected the boldness of the corresponding letters. I also realized that if I made a mistake, I could go back a space and try to type the correct character over the incorrect character that I had typed. Sometimes this method of fixing mistakes did not work so well because after trying to fix the mistake, it was still not obvious which character the new character was supposed to be. In this way, my experience with the typewriter differed from my normal experience because on a computer, all characters appear uniformly bold regardless of the pressure applied to the keys, and when editing a word processed document, it is simple to make the document appear as though an error has never been made on it in the document’s existence.
The main difference between typing a paper on a typewriter and on a computer that I experienced was the lack of a way to erase mistakes. I typed out the first section of my presentation, the summary from the previous class, on the typewriter without writing it out somewhere else first. For this section, I found that it was much easier to think about what I was going to say because it was simply a summary of my class notes, and I felt confident that I would not need to edit what I was going to write. However, when I got to the point where I was ready to start my presentation on the readings for the next class, I decided that it would be most efficient to type out my presentation on a computer word processor first so that I would not have to worry about making many mistakes on a typewriter and not being able to erase them. I did so and printed out my presentation so that I only had to read off of it when I was typing it on the typewriter. I felt that this method was much quicker and less frustrating than having to think through my entire presentation before putting it onto paper. In this way, using a typewriter did not really affect what I was thinking because I was able to perfect what I wanted to say by word processing it before I had to worry about typing it out perfectly. 


  1. Have you told them how it used to be done? I mean that you just type a draft, edit, retype the whole thing, proof, retype the whole thing clean, (or hire that one done - my mom used to do that).

  2. That's interesting. The newer generation trying to use the typewriter like they would their word processor, and as a result, find it harder to use than it is. Maybe you should introduce them to the ancient art of fixing errors with a eraser pressed against the paper table on the platen.

  3. I find it interesting that your students try to correlate the typewriter to a computer rather than looking at it as an entirely different device. The only thing in common is the finished written page, different fonts and such, but common in that they were printed.

    Problem I find with erasing errors is the paper does not seem as good as the old eraseable bond paper. Proper use of White-Out or Liquid Paper works, but I still prefer Ko-Rec-Type or similar tabs since most people (me included) tend to glob the liquids.

    It's interesting to read about the different methods the students use to achieve the final result of their typing. I think this student did it the hard way; computer to typewriter. I prefer the old way; an out line or hand written draft, type a draft and make any corrections and then type the final draft.

  4. It seems that a few folks in the Typosphere also write out their blog posts before typing them, at least some of the time.

    I've done this once or twice when my blog posts had a lot of pictures to explain, but other than that, I type by the seat of my pants!

  5. "I believe that this was the first time that I had ever seen a typewriter in person..."

    Funny, I had to explain to a young ebay seller how to insert paper into the platen so he could test the typewriter. He was thrilled.