Stephen J. Cannell. If you watched television shows in the 80s—like The A-Team, Riptide, or Hunter—then you know who he is. I watched all those shows because we only had one television in our house, and you don’t get much say in what’s on the tube when you’re the youngest.
Here’s what I remember about Mr. Cannell. At the end of every episode that he produced, it showed him typing away at his typewriter and tearing off a finished piece of paper. The page left his had and floated back and forth, until it landed on a stack of papers and curled up to form his logo. (You can watch a short clip of what I’m describing here.)
Why do I remember this? I wish I knew. More importantly, why do I bring it up now?
As a little kid, I was enamored with this tiny segment. Not only was this dude amazingly proficient at typing, but he also possessed some sort of power to control the flight path of paper. He also just looked cool. He had a beard and was smoking a pipe. He also worked out of, what looked to be, his home office in New England, as I liked to imagine.
He was what I hoped to be and, with the exception of the house on Cape Cod, today I am basically Stephen J. Cannell.
It’s funny. I hadn’t thought of him or this video clip for decades, until I recently saw an INBOUND Bold Talk by Clive Thompson, comparing the pros and cons of typing vs. handwriting. In it, he asks the question: Is typing or handwriting better?
Clive suggests the answer is “Yes.” Both mechanics have their pluses. You must first consider what you’re trying to accomplish and then choose your tool. According to Clive, you should ask yourself everyday, “What am I trying to do today?” Are you trying to absorb knowledge…in that case you should be using handwriting. Are you trying to produce knowledge…then you should be typing.”
Take some time to watch the entire 10-minute talk and see if you should make any changes to your physical writing technique.
(I, for one, will be channeling more Stephen J. Cannell…typing vigorously with a pipe tucked between my lips.)