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Pitman for Geeks

This is a site about Pitman shorthand, a shorthand system invented by Sir Isaac Pitman in the 1830s, and still in use today. It's capable of recording words at very high speeds - faster than a fast typist. In fact, it's even possible to record words faster than it's possible to speak them.

Most people associate shorthand with secretarial work. For many years, Pitman was taught mainly to prospective secretaries. A boss gave dictation. The secretary took it down in shorthand at speaking speed, then typed the letter or document from the shorthand notes. These days, the boss is more likely to type the letter herself, or record it into a dictating machine.

Some people still learn shorthand for the workplace - reporters, for instance, may need it for interviewing. In the UK, it's a requirement for becoming qualified as a reporter. But in most areas, shorthand has been replaced by other technologies.

My own interest in shorthand doesn't come out of a job requirement, though. I became intrigued by the idea of a form of writing which could express ideas faster and more efficiently. I can type fairly quickly (around 80 wpm), and I've found that the speed makes getting ideas from my head to a document into a fairly natural process. But if I'm not by my computer, or I don't have my laptop, I have to resort to handwriting. It feels so SLOW! Shorthand offers an appealing alternative. It's faster than handwriting, faster than typing, and potentially even faster than speech.

While exploring various shorthand sites, I noticed that many of the people who were now learning shorthand were people like me, who were intrigued by the idea of a more efficient writing system. Many (also like me) are "geeks".

This site is Pitman for the geek. It explains the system - the logic behind it, and a bit about the process of designing it. It offers mnemonics to remember the various symbols used.

    Page last updated 2010-01-10 9:11 AM