Tech Thursday: Tibiwangzi!

I've always wondered how Asia's youth (more specifically, those with character-based languages) would be affected by the Western-centric PC and mobile worlds. This brief article (and quoted study) from AFP (China Youth Daily) shows that many of those who grew up with the computer have been affected, and have been affected more severely than you may have imagined: 83% of those surveyed "admitted having problems writing characters"

However, Professor Mair questions whether or not this is as important an issue as you may think, saying that character amnesia is part of a "natural process of evolution":
The reasons why characters are innately difficult to enter into computers and mobile phones are innate to the character-based writing systems themselves. There are no magic bullets that will make it easy to input characters.
And Professor Mair is not the first to recognize this. The one and only Chairman Mao (not to be confused with the great Chairman Yi of the Washington Wizards) noted to a reporter that
Sooner or later, we believe, we will have to abandon characters altogether if we are to create a new social culture in which the masses fully participate.

My question to you all is this: where do you stand in this spectrum? Should we be worried that we're losing another form of written language? Or, is this simply a natural progression of the human species?


  1. I think that characters will fall out of common usage, much like cursive has in the United States. Characters will be held in the same regard as ancient Greek and Latin and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Their downfall will come from the fact that they cannot be easily digitized, and by digitized I am referring more to the ability to be broken down incrementally (as opposed to analog) than the ability to be translated into bits (1's and 0's).

  2. Scott, what does the big character mean?

  3. Aaron - Have you played with the Chinese keyboard on your iPhone? I know like 4 characterizes, but if I knew more, I think it would provide a neat option for those who wanted to "not lose" their writing abilities.

    I have no clue - I just picked a random image. Now I want to go back and pick one that somehow aligns with the post. Let's see what I can find. :)