This is an excellent post with a lot of informative comments as well. Personally, for years I’ve known there was a difference in thought process between typing and writing: when I want to write poetry or anything drawn from the depths of emotion, reflection, and introspection, I handwrite; when I want to write and think (logically) at the same time, I type — and then I proofread what I’ve typed several times to make sure it’s all coherent. My job as a Unix administrator benefits greatly from the typing-induced “muscle memory” learned by using the same commands thousands of times — I can have a spoken conversation and continue typing commands even while looking at the person talking, but if I’m looking at the screen while typing commands then the talking doesn’t work so well. I’ve been typing for over 20 years, touch-typing for more than 15 of them.
collision detection: Can you think better when you’re typing?
In today’s New York Times, there’s an Education article talking about the demise of proper cursive handwriting among high-schoolers. Computers have drastically reduced the amount a student writes by hand, so much that the skill, “like an unused muscle”, is pretty much dead by your senior year. But there’s an interesting question buried in this piece: What is the cognitive effect of handwriting versus typing?