How Technology Is Helping to Revitalize the Art of Calligraphy

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The skill's recent revival shows how heritage crafts can still flourish in the modern world, not in spite of, but with help from the Web

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Good news if you care about handwriting, which I've already argued here remains a living tradition. Fifty people in the U.K. still make a living as calligraphers. Only fifty or fully fifty? What kind of living? What about the U.S., Europe and Asia?

This video profile by the Guardian illustrates the challenges and skills of a top practitioner, including some surprising ones, like the scarcity of really suitable paper. It also shows that heritage skills aren't just anachronisms; they can be reproduced, improved and amplified by electronic technology. And film and television producers, advertising art directors and greeting card producers (electronic ones, too) need somebody to produce original art. The main thing about craft revivals is that, like preservation of heirloom plants and rare animal breeds, they need a critical mass. It's encouraging to see a major newspaper -- another threatened institution -- using Web video to spread the word.

Thanks to for the link.

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Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center and holds a Ph.D in European history. More

Edward Tenner is an independent writer and speaker on the history of technology and the unintended consequences of innovation. He holds a Ph.D. in European history from the University of Chicago and was executive editor for physical science and history at Princeton University Press. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows and John Simon Guggenheim fellow, he has been a visiting lecturer at Princeton and has held visiting research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy. He is now an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center, where he remains a senior research associate.

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