I just listened to a highly stimulating lecture on YouTube by Dr. Alison Tara Walker (Seattle University) on the paleographical ductus in the digital age. In palaeography, or the study of ancient handwriting, the "ductus" refers to the graphic character of strokes produced by a stylus. These patterns help us decipher letter-forms and understand a scribe's overall style of handwriting. Walker's main question is: Where is the ductus in modern tablets and mobile devices? She highlights two competing views: one by Heidegger and the other by Nietzsche. Heidegger thought that the type-writer removes the ductus altogether. Nietzsche argued that the typewriter retained the ductus. In other words, the ductus is still alive in the typewriter.
As someone who studies ancient handwriting, I found the questions in this lecture quite stimulating. It raised many questions such as the link between mind and hand, technology and the flow of an idea, finger as stylus, writing processes, the materiality of writing, and so on. Watch the lecture below!
Here is the abstract of Walker's lecture:
"Paleographers have long used the term _ductus_ to articulate the movement and sensory experience inherent in the process of writing and to describe the flow of letterforms from the hand to the page. But with the advent of the keyboard and touchscreen, how do the gestures of writing change? This talk explores the connection between gesture, the sound of writing, and how the _ductus_ of the writing instruments we use can help or hinder the writing process. First, the talk examines the change in _ductus_ between handwriting and the typewriter. From there, the focus turns to the digital age of writing by examining tablets, smart-phones, and new writing technologies in order to explore the unique _ductus_ of the digital era."