Ha, ha! Made you look.
WARNING: I just noticed how long this post has become. Be prepared for rambling; feel free to skim over the boring parts.
But imagine if it was true. I wonder which system would be chosen to be Gregg2K if it was to be taught widely in schools again. We seem to have come to a consensus that the best system depends on the user’s need. Also, that older systems tend to be faster to write, while newer ones faster to learn. From a marketing perspective though, which system would fare best in the educational system? Would it be a new one all together? Maybe it’s not worth the brain cells to think about…
Both writing speed and learning speed are important: if the system is too slow to be useful, it won’t outlive the first generation of users; if it is too difficult to learn, there will never be a first generation anyway. What is the golden mean?
The generally desired ideal seems to be as fast as normal speech–around 200 wpm (100 in the South). If gaining writing speed means losing learning ease, I would say 200 wpm is excessively fast for the general populace. When do we need to take dictation verbatim? The 21st century pen stenographer isn’t writing letters for her boss or recording a trial, she’s taking meeting minutes or notes for personal use. Getting down the important points is all that is needed. In the rare instances that a verbatim record is needed, recording devices are cheap and effective.
What is the minimum speed that will keep learning shorthand worth the while? I would guess my handwriting is around 30 wpm. If my Gregg was only 30 wpm (it’s probably not even that right now), it would already be preferable to longhand. The long flowing curves would reduce the stress on my poor finger joints. 30 wpm is probably to slow, though; it wouldn’t be worth going through the learning curve if reduced hand stress was the only benefit.
Maybe typing speed would make shorthand the most marketable. Even so slow as 60 to 80 wpm (yes, I know some of you can type faster), Gregg would still blow longhand out of the water. Plus, it would save one from having to lug a laptop around to classes and meetings. In my experience, typing is fast enough to get down the important points, but just barely. It would be nice if shorthand speed could inch past typing so that taking the main points would be less of a headache. Besides, shorthand has the disadvantage of usually needing to be transcribed, so extra speed would help balance that out. Therefor, I would say a little faster than typing is the minimum speed shorthand needs to be in order to be beneficial, say 80 to 100 wpm.
Now, before our Anniversary writers say, “Well, ‘rf’ is a much simpler representation of reference than ‘rfrns,'” that’s not the kind of speed I mean. I don’t mean easy to write–that’s what makes writing faster–I mean easy to memorize. Of course, the most memorizable system of Gregg would be to learn just the letters. I remember when I first became insterested in Gregg, that’s what I thought it was; a cute squiggle substituted for each sound. To my chagrine, I found becoming a Gregg writer would take a little more effort. So, I began getting aquainted with some new friends:
* Abbreviating principles,
* Phrasing, and
* (gasp!) Brief forms.
What is the minimum shorthand technology required to reach the 80 to 100 range? I wonder if it would be possible with no brief forms at all; with just the other four devices perfected. Maybe not. Still, I bet it could be done with just a few, for the very common long words than can’t be abbreviated or beginning/ending-ed.
I’m now in the second half of my Simplified manual, and I must admit that I am curious about the three later systems. Maybe the smaller learning curve would make them more worth my while. About half the people say Diamond Jubillee, which is faster to learn than Simplified, still writes fast enough to be a good system. EVERYONE has said that Series 90 sacrifices too much writing speed for learning speed. Can it hit my magic 80-100 range?
I am very curious about Centenial, which few seem to be familiar with. It was obviously released early as a correction to Series 90. Did it work? Is it just a disguised re-release of Diamond Jubilee with a sly change here and there? If it is has as good or better of a writing-learning balance, I would say that Centenial is the system best suited to the educational system.
I suspect that a most of us are perfectionists, and cringe at the suggestion that writing speed should be sacrificed for any reason. If shorthand CAN write faster, then it SHOULD write faster, right? Well yes, I would say so, but only if you are willing to digest the larger learning curve. Like I’ve said before, Simplified/DJS is a useful skill, and (Pre)Anniversary is a way of life. From a marketing standpoint, very few would have the dedication to learn the faster writing systems. You might turn your nose up at cheaper cars in favor of a lightning fast lamborghini, but cost/benefit analysis woud steer more people toward a Toyota. Hmm… I wonder what car Series 90 would be–Kia?
Because I’m horrfied of change, I’ll probably just stick with my Simplified manual for now, but would anyone encourage me to explore my Centennial fantasies? What do you think the best level of shorthand technology would be for Gregg to return to the mainstream?
Shorthand: isn’t it about time?