My writing location today is the famous Flat Iron Building near Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. Located at 84 Peachtree Street, Atlanta’s oldest skyscraper actually predates the Flat Iron Building in NYC by five years. In an era where most development involves the demolition of beautiful old buildings, its inspiring to sit in a structure that was built in 1897.
If you listened to 03 – A Talk With Aaron Coury, we talk about how spaces like Mammal Gallery can free the creative process. The same concept applies to Flat Iron as well. Its renewal joins a massive movement to bring art and technology together in downtown Atlanta.
SOUTH BROAD FIELD TRIP: (this one doesn’t require permission slips)
- Find your way down to 84 Peachtree Street. Walk through Woodruff Park.
- Swing into Flat Iron City.
- Grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich from one of Figo’s new concepts.
- Head down Broad Street toward Marietta Street.
- Cross Marietta Street and go through 5 Points MARTA station.
- Cross MLK and you will see South Broad.
One Dot At a Time
Think about the beauty of a single letter in the alphabet. Any letter.
They are fascinating instruments that don’t usually get a second thought, especially the handwritten ones. In the circus-like frenzy of our fast-paced days, we don’t think about the power that exists in each letter of the scribbled message in our notebook or the last line of our grocery list.
These little devices enable marvelous feats of communication like knowledge transfer, history, financial transactions, safety instructions and storytelling. With all of the technology available today, the art of the handwritten note has been discarded at the intersection of multitasking and productivity. Handwriting was actually considered a sketchy new technology when it was first introduced. Similar to Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, this technology was met with a similar onslaught of naysayers that any new technology is often greeted.
It’s the 4th Century BC.
We stumble upon Socrates and Plato arguing about the detrimental effects the written word will have on humanity. As an orator, Socrates thought the main value of the written word would be to combat frequent cases of CRS (can’t remember shit) as one gets longer in the tooth. Plato believed in the more expansive benefits of the written word.
Nicholas Carr’s article The Oral World Vs. The Written Word provides a high-level view of this epic debate. If you want the deep dive, you can read Plato’s Phaedrus.
“We see evidence of the strains created by the transition from an oral to a literary culture. It was, as both Plato and Socrates recognized in their different ways, a shift that was set in motion by the invention of a tool, the alphabet, and that would have profound consequences for our language and our minds.”
Buckle up. Here is the light speed version of the history of the written word.
A cutting edge thinker in Mesopotamia puts together wedge shapes to build something called cuneiform. The picture below (thanks to The Max Planck Society) is actually a delivery list for three types of beer and a record of the recipients.
In Egypt, people start using pictographic symbols called hieroglyphics.
Hundreds of years later, the Phoenicians put together 22 “letters” and call it an alphabet.
With the influence of several cultures and a thousand years, we find ourselves with ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.
Maybe this is how it went down?
Hey boss, I’ve got this idea that will help us document, communicate and create with consistency across our entire culture. What do you think of this?
I love the simplicity of basic forward progress.
All letters start one dot at a time. Dots lead to letters, letters produce words, words fill sentences, sentences build stories, books, articles, screenplays, research studies and so on.
Creation can be daunting. Blank pages are intimidating, but there is zero anxiety in making a single dot. No expectations, just forward progress. Worry about what it is later.
For now, just open up and give something new a chance to live, breathe and grow.
Let it be something more than a missed opportunity … one dot at a time.
HOMEWORK: Use this amazing technology and create something great. Write someone a handwritten letter. The tactile nature of a letter cannot be translated to the digital realm. A physical representation of a thought or feeling from the heart and mind to the hand and paper.
I need a favor.
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Thanks for reading.