I was going to post this as a comment in response to this article, but then it grew too lengthy.
I understand that written language is nothing more than arbitrary symbols for sounds we make; but I don’t know if reducing the written language to four shapes and colors is a step forward.
Snapkeys works for us as a means towards an end, but only because we were forced to learn the entire process. But it has the same danger a calculator has. That is: I can skip the process to get to the end result and will never truly understand what has occurred.
Reading and writing is a completely abstract, and unnatural, process. A process that as we learn and understand that process, shifts how we think and view the world around us. The learned behavior to sit still, take in information, develop it and then comprehend it, is an incredibly important skill. That is what “reading” actually is. It becomes a spring-board for other, deeper forms of abstract thought including (I believe) empathy. Neil Postman even attributes the development of “childhood” to reading, and the subsequent “loss” of it to the rise of television.
As we advance technologically we need to still understand the processes that we’ve outsourced. In fact the more disconnected we become from the processes, the more we need to understand what exactly is occurring. Not out of fear of some Skynet created apocalypse, but to address the moment when that technology doesn’t exist. And furthermore to better use it. I can use Facebook effectively because I learned how to communicate and interact face to face, first.