Low Dimensional Topology

January 21, 2008

Writing math papers on a cell phone?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jesse Johnson @ 4:05 pm

The New York Times has a story about a new literary trend in Japan: novels written on (and often read on) cell phones. I occasionally wonder if getting a cell phone with word processing capabilities would improve my productivity, but I’m pretty sure the answer is no. What I found interesting about the article is that writing on cell phones appears to have a distinct impact on the resulting literary style, characterized by shorter sentences and simpler words. In particular it mentions near the end that after one cell phone author switched to writing on a regular computer (because her thumb nails had begun cutting into her skin) her sentences became longer and her vocabulary increased.

While I don’t know of any mathematicians who have started composing their papers on cell phones, there has been an evolution of writing media from pens to typewriters to computers and I wonder what sort of effect this has had on the style of math papers. I tend to compose papers entirely on the computer from brainstorming to final revisions (though I do print them out to proof read them). Of course, I started writing math papers with computers so I have nothing of my own to compare it to. Have any of you, dear readers, noticed a change in your writing or in others’ writing that might be attributed to a shift from typewriters to computers?

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