We have been writing for thousands of years

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Writing devices used to change once every few hundred years in the past. Now they are changing much faster.

Humans have been writing for many thousands of years. Experts say that according to available evidence, writing as we know it began in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia) between 3400 and 3300 BC. Mesopotamia was where most of Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Turkey, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are today.

Wikipedia says that there is also evidence of writing in Mesoamerica circa 300 BC. Mesoamerica is a historical region that covers Central Mexico through to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Belize and Guatemala are also part of Mesoamerica.

According to Cheap Essay Writing Service, independent writing systems also arose in China c. 1200 BC in the Shang Dynasty and in Egypt c. 3100 BC. Some historians argue that these two writing systems were the result of Sumerian writing that spread.

Ancient writing utensils

In ancient times, there were no pens, ballpoint pens, and pencils as we know them today. In ancient Egypt, people used a reed pen, while in other areas writers used a cane pen or a stylus.

Most ancient civilizations used clay tablets to write on. The Sumerians, for example, made small tokens of clay to represent items. Sometimes, they kept these tokens in sealed clay envelopes.

Thousands and even hundreds of years ago, a small percentage of the population could read and write. Scribes (people who could write) had a high status in society.

Sumerian writing - image
The Sumerians wrote on clay. They typically used a reed or bone stylus. This clay tablet, from Shuruppak, Iraq, circa 2500 BC, is in the British Museum, London.

Writing during the Middle Ages

After the Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe, the evolution of writing continued mainly in the Eastern Roman Empire and also the Persian Empire. Latin declined in importance, leaving Greek and Persian as the dominant written languages.

In the 7th century, Arabic became a major literary language in the region due to the rise of Islam.

The Persians and Turks adopted Arabic script as their primary script. The Arabic language also spread the Hindu-Arabic numeral system across most of Europe.

Transition from utensils to machines

Humans had been writing exclusively with quills, pens, pencils, and reeds until 1878. In 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes patented the first typewriter.

It was not until the 1880s, however, that people started using typewriters in offices. Typing soon became the official procedure for non-personal correspondence.

The Internet changed how we write

Throughout our history, how we write has been influenced by major events. Some of these events were the result of technological milestones.

The last important milestone was the advent of the Internet. Over the past three decades, the Internet has changed how we write significantly.

Evolution of our writing devices
What devices will we be using in thirty years’ time?

We now use hundreds of words that just a few decades ago either did not exist or nobody understood. The following terms are new: vlog (video blog), blog, #Hashtag, HTML, mashup, sexting, and bromance.

IT (information technology), robotics, and artificial intelligence have contributed considerably to the expansion of the English language.

Before the Internet, being a good writer depended entirely on have a good command of, for example, the English language.

Today, it also depends on the writer’s ability to use current technology. Today’s writer can choose fonts, colors, grammar checkers, word counters, images, and videos. According to grammargang.com: “You don’t have to have a degree in English to make sure your grammar is on par.”

As AI evolves, will we need to write at all in the future? AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. Robots and other ‘smart’ devices might do all the writing for us. If that happens, will our command of language deteriorate?