In a pair of pieces on Publishing Perspectives, Rachel Aydt and Edward Nawotka ponder the way that the analog/digital divide may not be as divisive as we thought. Aydt looks at iconic notebook maker Moleskine’s partnership with memory-organizer app Evernote on creating a Moleskine notebook that can be photographed and automatically sorted into Evernote categories.
[Mokeskine America president Marco] Beghin challenges our ideas of mobility by continually describing his own; not just his physical life, but the moment to moment life between analog and digital. “We don’t stand for analog or digital. We’re in a mobile continuum that looks more like analog, digital, analog, digital. We can teach how to be mobile in this continuum.”
Nawotka wonders if “the digital age […] is driving people back to analog.” Are people getting tired of the nebulous “cloud” and seeking solace in material media?
I have my doubts.
As Beghin says, we’re on a continuum. We might like reading e-books, but even those of us who refuse to read paper books at all still use paper money and paper checks. We sign legal documents in pen, and have them notarized by those neat little hand-squeezed emboss seal thingies. We scribble things down on post-its and stick them up everywhere just because there isn’t a good electronic equivalent. The idea of the “paperless office” is universally accepted as a joke, since thanks to the computer our use of paper has actually exploded.
(That being said, apparently paper use has declined enough lately to endanger our toilet paper supply, and one paper manufacturer has actually launched a marketing campaign to try to get people to use more of it. And one company has come up with a little tiny paper-strip printer that’s meant to move social media from the web to tangible form you can hold in your hand. So maybe there is something to this moving-from-cloud-to-print thing after all?)
I spend my days between tech support calls at my day job scribbling down the first draft of a story I’m writing in pen and ink form on a notepad because I’m not allowed to use the company computer’s Internet for such things. I type it up later when I get home, making changes and tweaks along the way, and so the paper and ink forms a sort of tactile part of my writing process, out of necessity. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rather be writing it electronically, but when it’s a case of writing it on paper or not writing at all, I’ll choose paper.
I don’t think we’re going to be able to get rid of paper for quite some time. There are too many legacy structures built onto it. It reminds me of a post from a Wired writer the other day who plans to ditch her paper wallet and use her smartphone as her only wallet for the next month. Even she admits she’ll still be carrying a physical ID in case of “some sort of crazy emergency.” (I doubt the police would be very impressed by the photo of her driver’s license on her smartphone if they happen to pull her over.)
So next time you write a check to pay your rent, you might ask yourself whether it’s because you still “believe” in analog, or just because your landlord doesn’t take PayPal yet.