Friday, November 12, 2010

CraZy CApiTalS

Dear writers of the world-

If you wish to communicate with me please use standard-issue, regular capitalization and punctuation. Please do not TyPe In a CrAZy MixTuRe of upper- and lower-case. I am old and this confuses me and wastes my time as I search for some kind of pattern or meaning. Likewise, please do not abandon capitalization altogether.
you are not ee cummings
i find myself
annoyed and confused

This does not bother me in names or brand names. Relax, LeighAnn, SarahEllen and JoBob. Calm down iPhone and airTran. I just get confused when I look at paragraphs of this stuff. 

These requests are particularly important if you are asking me to donate to your possibly worthwhile charitable cause, support your local event or advertise in your publication or on your website. Again, I am old enough to remember why capitalization was standardized by typographers. Okay, I was not actually around when it occurred (mid- 18th century-ish) but I am old enough that I took Typing 1 AND Typing 2 in high school. This required class consisted of a room of Smith-Coronas and IBM Selectrics and a badgered-looking Mr. Fish who wore bow-ties and handed out passages from a 50's era typing manual for our daily lessons. We copied the passages before writing our name on the corner of the paper in pencil and dropping it on his desk on the way out. In addition to learning to sneak the nicely-typed pages out of the teacher's desk box and carefully erase the typists name before replacing it with my own*, I also learned a few historical facts about capital letters and why we use them.

In fact, I found those few brief minutes where we were lectured on the creation of QUERTY and the history of keyboard layout to be my favorite moments in Typing 1. Lucky for me, those exact same facts were part of the first day of Typing 2, just in case we weren't paying attention.

The use of OdD CaPItaLs makes me think that the writer is trying really, really hard to be creative. Oops, I mean they are trying really, really hard to be CrEaTiVe. I also wonder how they can do it. Seriously, it takes my total concentration to type ToTal ConCenTraTIon without major spelling errors. Imagine if I was typing PlEaSe DonATe to HeLP KiDs LeaRN AbouT ArT. How would I have any energy left over to help kids learn about art? Just reading it wears me out so much I can't donate any money.

*Obviously, I didn't learn how to type from Mr. Fish. Somehow that skill eluded me until college when I picked it up in about an hour. Yes, I took two whole semesters of typing in high-school and only learned how to really type when I needed it a few years later. Yes, that is why I don't think my eight-year-old needs to take classes to learn to use a computer.

That nifty vintage typewriter image is from Christoper Latham Shoals 1870's patent application. I nicked it off  the Wikipedia page right here. The typewriter letter stamp set is from us right here, and yes, Edward Estlin, we do also have capital letters!