As a sign of the times, thumb thing’s gone very wrong


As a sign of the times, thumb thing’s gone very wrong

RIP the artful signature, once a flourish of our individual personality as well as our word of honour

Tymon Smith

UK cyber security firm Online Spy Shop released the results of a survey last week that suggests the good old-fashioned handwritten signature is in danger of dying out. According to the Guardian the results of the survey show “more than half of UK adults hardly sign their signature anymore; one in five don’t have a consistent signature; 15% of those under 24 don’t remember when they last had to sign a piece of paper; and 40% of all signatures are now done on digital devices using e-pens or a finger.”
This is bad news not just for autograph collectors but also for that age-old primary school habit of practising your signature for when you become famous. The American expression “just need your John Hancock over here … and here … and there” may not apply any more. We are in an era when the ornate inky swirls of Hancock – an original signatory of the Declaration Of Independence – which were once so admired, are not necessary for digital capturing.Experts are divided. Some argue that new technologies such as chips and pins and biometrics are far more failsafe than the old “sign on the dotted line”. Others believe that a handwritten signature is still the best proof that an individual with a personality has thought about a transaction before agreeing to its terms.
Either way it would be a shame to see the end of a tradition of authorship and agreement that goes back at least 5,000 years – the mark of one Gar Ama appears on a Sumerian tablet from 3100BC. Signing has been common practice in the UK since 1677 when its parliament passed the State of Frauds Act to replace Xs and wax seals with signatures on contracts.If the death of the signature bothers you perhaps it is time to start an online petition – although the decision as to how to sign it may end up sabotaging the whole enterprise. In the meantime, to share this article, please place your right thumbprint on the sensor and fill in the letters below to prove you’re not a robot.

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