Is the pen still mighty?

I invigilated the finals for the past three weeks. Today’s session was my last. While doing so, I always felt sorry when I saw students having a sort of writer’s cramp in the course of their 3-hour-long exams, filling in sheets and sheets.

No comparison with those who actually take ones, but exams are not very pleasant for us invigilators, either. We naturally become, well, bored to tears. Nevertheless, I tried to make the best our of it, and I positively found myself left with no choice but reflect. Just like the 40 minutes on the train between Waterloo and Egham – my most productive time.

The reason why I prefer coursework like essays to exams is that I can’t write fast by hand whereas I can type around 70 wpm without a single error. (Just tested! 😉 ) Also having to write with a pen, not a pencil, kind of bothers me. What if I want to improve my text in my usual hindsight? Oh, I now sound like the No 1 of 1983’s K-pop chart, the rather cheesily titled song “Love should be penciled” (사랑은 연필로 쓰세요). Anyway, I believe the keyboard was invented for me.

There was an interesting article, “Is the pen still mighty in the computer age?“, on the MSN homepage a few days ago. While noticeably defending the pen against the stylus, the article admits the younger generation simply have a different attitude to penmanship. Ah, digital natives…

Or maybe we all are in the general direction to becoming cyborgs. (You see, invigilating DOES force one to think.) When I participated the Doctoral Colloquium of the AoIR annual conference last year in Brisbane, a fellow participant Polly McGee from University of Tasmania said, “If you grab a mouse and click, you are a cyborg”. I found that comment interestingly puzzling, so I looked further at her references. It was apparently a classical discussion in the field of cyborgology (Fine word!), addressed by Chris Hables-Gray (1995: 322) stating that “Anyone with an artificial organ, limb, or supplement (such as a pacemaker), anyone reprogrammed to resist disease (immunized) or drugged to think/behave/feel better (psychopharmacology) is technically a cyborg”. Being a cyborg, hmmm. That’s ok.

By the way, I finally got myself the keyboard I was looking for. Ta-da.



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