I stumbled across a reference on Recording Thoughts to a cool alternative writing system called Handywrite this morning. It works by writing English phonetically using a symbolic series of loops, lines and curves. I can see how it could be quite effective as a shorthand for taking notes once you’ve mastered it (I just noticed there is in fact a Handywrite shorthand that is even more condensed), but I think quite a bit of practice would be required before you could reach the point of writing faster than with the conventional alphabet.
Since Handywrite is basically unintelligible unless you understand its symbols and rules it also makes for a cool simple encryption scheme. If you wanted to keep a journal or diary that most people couldn’t just pick up and read, Handywrite would work pretty well. In fact, if I were still a kid back in middle school or high school I think I would have found passing notes written to my friends in Handywrite fairly amusing. Of course I can’t see too many non geeky kids taking up the task of learning the system though, but that probably would have made it more appealing to me back then anyway.
Incidentally, the backstory on how Handywrite came to be is fairly interesting as well. Apparently its developer became fascinated with studying shorthand writing while in his college years during the 70s and actually travelled across the country by hopping trains and hitchhiking to get to various libraries that had the information he was looking for.