I’ve been reading shorthand for about two years now, after abortive attempts to learn about 25 years ago. I’ve done a little writing, but nothing regular. Mostly, I’ve been reading.
This weekend I used it for real! During a certain training session, I was assigned to be an observer, to notice how the trainee interacted with someone. The session I observed lasted about 20 minutes, but the trainee’s comments were fairly limited (5-8 comments in 20 minutes). After that time, the next 20-minute period was for discussing the trainee’s interactions.
Two of us were observing: me (also a trainee), and the teacher. During the session, we both took notes. Early in session, I got frustrated with my writing speed and switched to shorthand. It worked! Although I couldn’t catch everything, I noticed that I spent less time writing than the teacher did, and during the following discussion, I had the comments down verbatim, whereas the teacher did not. In this context exact words matter, so my notes were helpful.
Usually, shorthand can easily be replaced by recordings. But not here: searching for the few comments in a 20-minute recording would have been cumbersome. I could have typed the comments faster on my laptop, and I suppose that would have been better in a sense, but it would have been obvious and distracting, and would have detracted from the experience of everyone involved.
This is rather a special situation, of course. I was taking down relatively few comments, delivered slowly and thoughtfully. But still, since I’m not studying shorthand with any expectation that it will be practical, I was thrilled to find a use for it!