"That just blew my mind"
June 27, 2014 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I Sent All My Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week. "The idea: I wanted to message friends using calligraphic texts for one week... Before I started, I established rules for myself: I could create only handwritten text messages for seven days, absolutely no using my phone’s keyboard. I had to write out my messages on paper, photograph them, then hit “send.” I didn’t reveal my plan to my friends unless asked, and I received a variety of responses."

Christina Vanko's experiment yielded some interesting results, which she details below the phone screen shots. My personal favorite
"Receiving handwritten messages made people feel special. The awesome feeling of receiving personalized mail really can be replicated with a handwritten text.:
posted by quin (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I thought I was going to be annoyed by that, but I found it surprisingly charming.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:28 PM on June 27, 2014

Brother Ambrose! Quit texting and get back to work!

The Comtesse d'Arpajon's psalter isn't going to illuminate itself!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:45 PM on June 27, 2014 [29 favorites]

Yeah, same. Kind of want to do it myself, except.. probably not calligraphy, just regular handwriting.

Also I'd feel like a terrible copycat, which is the worst* kind of person to be.

* not really
posted by curious nu at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2014

I have a friend that I do this with. It's an inside joke because we used to leave sticky notes for each other when we worked together. Not calligraphy but still fun.

We didn't get an article about it, but you're not a copycat if you do it too.
posted by sweetkid at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2014

Sometimes it's just a slow day in the blogosphere. Ayep.
posted by codswallop at 7:03 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

And sometimes we run into a genuinely interesting concept that reminds us about the little things we take for granted in communication and our daily lives in general.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 7:10 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Such as the concept of form trumping content?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:21 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

is...is using hashtags in texts a thing people actually do other than for comic effect? and why?
posted by threeants at 7:38 PM on June 27, 2014

In the summer of 2011, Shreve Stockton took her cows up to pasture in the mountains where she stayed in a small trailer. She could only get cell phone reception at one spot but this is how she posted to her blog all summer, tagged 'off the grid'. I thought it was charming and it did feel more personal than ordinary posts.
posted by Anitanola at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I thought that the notes were rather sweet. I love the idea of sending a picture of your expression rather than an emoji.
posted by arcticseal at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tags are Metadata, so only tags are saved in the Oracle of the Rising Dragon data center unless you eschew them entirely #donttasemebro
posted by aydeejones at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I’ve recently begun writing physical paper letters again and am still a few out from regaining control over my handwritten letter forms. i find this idea appealing.
posted by mwhybark at 8:04 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Time to app...five...four...three...
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:14 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is keen, and I'm tempted to copy this, except my handwriting is terrible, so it'd be like "analog" auto-correct errors, or a game of visual telephone. "Does that say 'grape soda' or 'great job'?"
posted by filthy light thief at 8:38 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have a non-smartphone Tracfone flip phone.

It would piss me the fuck off if someone sent me only photo texts for a week.
posted by hippybear at 8:39 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Way, too twee.
posted by oddman at 9:03 PM on June 27, 2014

I love the idea of sending a picture of your expression rather than an emoji.

I've been doing this since phones could send photo texts, and enough people had phones that could receive them. I actually have a big enough library of previously taken wacky face photos in my phone that i basically have an emoji library... of myself.

I didn't realize that until a few days ago when my partner commented that i had sent like 8 different ones in a day, and asked how many i had, and i realized it was like 30.
posted by emptythought at 9:10 PM on June 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I actually have a big enough library of previously taken wacky face photos in my phone that i basically have an emoji library

Pssh - if you were really cool you'd do an oil painting of each one, then send pictures of those instead.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:37 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or at least a quick charcoal sketch on a napkin.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:23 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You know, being one of metafilter's resident Cantankerous Old FucksTM I'm going to need to take this opportunity to point out that back in the day, when peoples Minds got Blown, it usedta actually mean something. Like, you'd eaten 500 mikes of Owsley and listened to a particularly groovy Hendrix solo ("like, woooooow") or heard somebody refer to God with a female pronoun ("huuuuuuuuuh?") or gotten yourself killed by rednecks for being a Freedom Rider ("far out, man!").

These days though? Every couple of seconds the internet barfs up some other incredibly trifling piece of fluff that's supposed to "blow" our "minds", and frankly, I'm not sure there's even anything else in there to blow at this point.

Like, sorry, internet, I already achieved samadhi earlier today, from seeing a picture of a hamster wearing a kilt, and I'm just not sure I'll be able to actually have a stroke over this unbelievably life-changing picture of a piece of paper.

but, really, i'm sure it's all very exciting for you, good luck with all that!
posted by hap_hazard at 10:43 PM on June 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm sending Vines of smoke signals.
posted by notyou at 10:54 PM on June 27, 2014 [9 favorites]

I type all my emails in Microsoft Word, then I print them on a dot matrix printer, and fax them to myself. The fax outputs them as 10mb per page TIFFs. I attach those to a blank email and send them that way. I think it's quaint.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:18 PM on June 27, 2014 [9 favorites]

... - .- .-. - .. -. --. / - --- -- --- .-. .-. --- .-- / .- .-.. .-.. / -- -.-- / - . -..- - ... / .-- .. .-.. .-.. / -... . / .. -. / -- --- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. .
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:03 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

.. / -.-. .- -. .----. - / -... . .-.. .. . ...- . / -.-- --- ..- / .-- . -. - / - .... .-. --- ..- --. .... / .- .-.. .-.. / - .... .- - / - .-. --- ..- -... .-.. . / .- -. -.. / -.. .. -.. -. .----. - / . ...- . -. / ..- ... . / - .... . / .-- --- .-. -.. / .--. . -. .. ... .-.-.- / .--. . -. .. ... .-.-.-
posted by Literaryhero at 1:40 AM on June 28, 2014

From TFA: It's clear to me that, these days, people prefer to be warned about an upcoming phone call before it comes in.

I've seen this before, but it really serves me up a big plate of cognitive dissonance. Has texting truly changed social norms to such a great degree so quickly? And am I really old? (Feel free to not answer the last question.)
posted by bryon at 1:42 AM on June 28, 2014

bryon I think it's so easy to send a text that now actually ringing someone to speak to them feels like a Big Deal. One of my friends and I have a running joke that if we see the other's name flash up as an incoming call we answer it with "Oh God who died?" If we have to ring each other we fire off a warning text first: I'm about to RING you!! :-O

I thought this was a sweet idea. The one that made me laugh was the exchange:
You up?
Because taking the time to calligraphy "yes" is pretty funny.
posted by billiebee at 3:02 AM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

But isn't sending photos expensive?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 AM on June 28, 2014

I think it's so easy to send a text that now actually ringing someone to speak to them feels like a Big Deal.

I usually reply to texts with "can I just call you?" since I find it impossible to communicate via text.
posted by octothorpe at 4:48 AM on June 28, 2014

The first comment is the most on point:
So! you left out the most important part. What pens? Most of the texts have a flex quality, so dip pens? Noodler's Konrad/Ahab? Namiki Falcon? Something else entirely?
Seriously, inquiring minds want to know.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

People sometimes get the wrong impression about me when they see that I usually use a fountain pen. That impression is quickly corrected if they actually look at the notes that I just wrote.

Ha! Yes, I get that. I write with fountain pens, because my writing with ballpoints is totally illegible, even to myself a lot of the time.

My great sorrow is that there is no fountain pen version of the Livescribe.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:33 AM on June 28, 2014

I think it's so easy to send a text that now actually ringing someone to speak to them feels like a Big Deal.
Sometimes I work in what is effectively a Faraday cage through which I get no phone signal and because of this there is a land-line who's only function is for us to receive personal calls. This line is never more than ten feet away from a human being and outside of an old-testament scenario will always be answered. I have explained this numerous times and yet I often come out of the cage to a flood of hours old text messages along the lines of "Where are you?" "Why is your phone switched off?". Often from the same people I have explained this to.

Also, don't get me started on how increasingly difficult it is to explain to some people you don't own a smart-phone.

Or a car.
posted by fullerine at 6:38 AM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

Pedantic old texter here: these are MMS, not texts. I think MMSs were invented for the sole purposes of incurring data charges on people who don't have smartphones. Text messages use a spare bit of the GSM data structure that someone thought, “Hey, we could stick a message in here …”
posted by scruss at 7:24 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

one of those "who really gives shit" things that occasionally pop up on Metafilter that I should learn to ignore.
posted by mary8nne at 8:13 AM on June 28, 2014

I'm sending Vines of smoke signals.

I'm sending Yo messages via Pony Express*.

and time machine
posted by Jahaza at 8:18 AM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've mentioned this before. Nintendo had a program that they included for free with their handheld gaming unit DSI XL called Hatena Flipnote. It was meant as a program that you could use to hand draw and share animations. When you commented on the animations, you did it with handwriting by writing on the DSI. So people ended up using it as community webblog. . There were conversations, art, animations on lots of topics. Both of my kids were on it and I sometimes would have to take their DSi away so they would get to sleep or they would be commenting all night.

It had a large, engaged community with many online friendships. But when Nintendo came out with the DSi 3DS (the 3D version), they no longer included Hatena. They ended up closing down the servers and it no longer works even on the older DSi. It was finally killed off just three weeks ago (I think the company Hatena still has other services).

It is the nuttiest thing I've ever seen. NIntendo had a large pot of gold--a large engaged community of kids using Nintendo products to keep in touch with each other--and they just threw it away. I think, maybe, they could only think in terms of selling games, and so didn't know what to do with it.

I know the concept of handwriting into a blog seems silly now--as someone with terrible handwriting I'm grateful for keyboards, but it seemed that using handwriting to make comments made an extra personal connection between the kids on the Hatena service. I'm sorry it is gone.
posted by eye of newt at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I work in what is effectively a Faraday cage through which I get no phone signal

Hah, yeah, I don't get cell reception where I work and somehow it is so hard for people to get "call my work number before 5, call the cell after 5." I get a lot of people calling/texting/leaving messages on the cell that I needed to get before 5 (and yes, that says that on the voice mail for the cell), no matter how often I say it. I can't always run out of the building to check the phone "just in case" all the time either.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:34 AM on June 28, 2014

as a followup to my previous comment, do a google search or a google image search for 'goodbye hatena' to get a feeling for some of the art that was posted to Hatena. Unfortunately, the handwritten conversations usually don't get posted elsewhere and so don't show up in Google.
posted by eye of newt at 8:47 AM on June 28, 2014

my mistake, Hatena closed a year ago, and adding this comment gives me an excuse to give this link.
posted by eye of newt at 9:03 AM on June 28, 2014

In the Dark Ages ('70s) a friend who went back to college and I wrote letters to one another. At the time I was keeping a journal, and indulging in the whim of "phonetic spelling"... and subjected my friend to the same, in my letters. He usually deciphered them, but occasionally asked what certain words were (supposed to be). It WAS fun... and silly... and, obviously memorable (on my side, anyhow). ^..^
posted by ridovem at 11:18 AM on June 28, 2014

I've been active on this post card exchange site, Postcrossing, (which actually has a MeFi post) for years now and my quality of card varies drastically. I write in a cursive/print hybrid that can look really nice but can also be completely messy and I swear the Russian postmen of the world dread my handiwork.

It's a really interesting way of interacting with people around the world who you would never be in contact with otherwise and you really do get this weirdly intimate snapshot into people's lives. You can learn a surprising amount about someone in a 4" x 6" space that you wouldn't get even in a longer email. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's a handwritten item but at the same time, I think has less to do with the fact that it is handwritten and more that it provides way more context and it's easier to read intent.

I feel like handwritten texts is kind of a cheap comparison and it seems to be more about the novelty than anything else. But I am also pretty jaded re: this kind of internet stuff.
posted by KernalM at 3:28 PM on June 28, 2014

I'll be picky and bitter and say I appreciate the sentiment and the awareness it brings to the art of Calligraphy... but the writing skill needs some work. It's more of cursive-with-a-flex-nib rather than calligraphy. I also understand this can be interpreted as "modern" calligraphy, but some major basics are missing.
posted by Just Another Entity at 5:21 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tangent: Seattle journalist Monica Guzman has begun a similar project.
posted by mwhybark at 2:16 PM on July 2, 2014

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