• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

I still love paper

Newsweek has an article in the March 16 issue to the effect that many people trying to get a handle on productivity and manage their ever-accumulating to-do lists are reverting to low-tech solutions such as Post-it notes and paper planners:

Still, retailers like Franklin Covey have noted an increase in customers who buy handheld devices but later retreat to paper. Making a notation on paper "seems to just sink deeper into your brain," says senior VP Gordon Wilson. Office-product companies are listening to the bloggers. Staples' latest line of day planners offers hipper covers, more space for notes and a binding system making it easier to flip to the current week.

Techies laud not only paper's efficiencies but also its idiosyncratic joys. Entrepreneur Jon Symons enjoys seeing his day's tasks spread out on 40 handwritten Post-It notes, which he rips down as he completes each to-do. "There's something very beautiful about it," he says. Amid the cacophony of gadgets, the rip and rustle of paper provide surprising comfort.

I love my electronic toys, but I've never been able to quite give up paper. My PNDA (personal non-digital assistant) is made of my business cards, the back one one being just perfect for one note to myself (the only drawback is that have I have to be careful not to give one out that I have scribbled on the back of). When a composition is fairly well formed, and I have a pretty good idea of how I want to write it, nothing is better than a word processor. But if I'm still thinking about something as I write it, developing arguments and considering counter-arguments, I go back to the old standby, pen and legal pad. Sometimes, going back a page or two to see what I've crossed out is an important part of the process.

There's a new book out called The Annotated Cat, showing through his drafts how Dr. Seuss constantly wrote and rewrote to get exactly the right word or phrase. It's a treasure for those wanting to study and understand really good writing. Electronic writing tends not to leave behind a trail of rough drafts, which is one loss to weigh against all we gain.


Larry Morris
Mon, 03/19/2007 - 8:29am

I too love all my electronic toys, you should know. But, I must admit, paper has one distinct advantage that at least the PC guys have never quite gotten - you don't have to buy a new kind every time you get a new type of pencil, ... (I can't believe I just said that)

Steve Towsley
Tue, 03/20/2007 - 8:18pm

Funny, guys. I am unapologetic that I have not lost all respect for paper. I agree with this comment:

>Making a notation on paper "seems
>to just sink deeper into your
>brain," says senior VP Gordon

It doesn't explain why, or how much, or for how long, but there is a rough truth in there. I'll continue to use paper for things that I think (intuitively) still lend themselves to the medium, whether it's printouts, Post-Its, or dry erase notations. And I'll be more efficient that way, I bet.