How Do We Make Our Mark?
reviseExpression comes in many fonts, colored inks, and paper hues. But one of the most important ancillary inventions for scribblers was Liquid Paper, more commonly known as white-out. Originally called "mistake out," it was invented by a wannabe artist and former Dallas secretary, Bette Nesmith Graham (the mother of former Monkee Mike Nesmith). Seeking a better typewriter correction ribbon, she made a brew of white tempera and pigment that resulted in the most functional liquid since water.
enableAnother boon to expression was loose-leaf paper, blue-lined with a pink margin and three holes so that it can sit in a loose-leaf binder (U.S. patent #4904103). Who actually designed the paper is something of a mystery, but the concept dates back to the 1850s.
digitizeThe most popular precursor to the PDA was Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak's Apple Newton MessagePad, released in 1993 and named after Sir Isaac Newton. It was a lot clunkier than the new organizers, but nonetheless had many of the writing functions-including handwriting recognition software, like inventor Jeff Hawkins's smart Palm Pilot-that are so ubiquitous today.
Jessica's pick:I resist the notion that a machine can draw as well as a person, but recently I saw something that made me think differently. Scriptographer is a plug-in to Adobe Illustrator that lets you draw, and then completes the gesture-so a random line becomes an arabesque, or a spiral, or a tree branch. It is captivating precisely because it's so collaborative; a kind of improvisational dialogue that opens your eyes to an entirely new kind of expression.-JESSICA HELFAND
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