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Ever since there has been a written word, scribes have devised ways to transcribe the spoken word into a written form with the greatest ease. Dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians, archeologists have discovered traces of shorthand among scribal texts and artifacts. In fact, their shorthand became the normal writing style; leaving hieroglyphics for ornamental scrolls and decoration on temple and tomb walls.

Ancient And International Stenography

The concept of Stenography (not the writing itself) was remediated throughout history in Eastern and Western cultures. Caligraphy has evolved as the formal, correct, way to write letters and words, whereas everyday handwriting is arguably a form of shorthand. Much like the alphabet itself, Stenography can be seen as a digital interpretation of an analog idea.

During the Han Dynasty (207BCE – 220CE), the Chinese developed two forms of rapid writing known as xingshu (running script) and caoshu (grass script). Still used today, the different strokes in the former are combined and others left out whereas in the latter the entire character is written in one continuous stroke. This has made these forms of stenography incredibly difficult to read without extensive training. Over the years there has been an effort made to standardize these forms of Stenography but they have been met with a deal of opposition. This can be seen as a pop and whistle of this technology. No matter how much training in the writing one can have, every piece transcribed will be inconsistent with the others in the basic structure of the physical construction of the words themselves. Unlike using the Western alphabet (which is standardized) to make a group of manuscripts, using xingshu and caoshu is a lot riskier because the message will fundamentally change from scribe to scribe.