Rekindling our connection to print and paper

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Rekindling our connection to print and paperI have always been a paper guy – preferring to sit down with a good book in hand, not a digital device. And on the writing side, at least as far as notes and drafts of articles, etc., are concerned a pen & paper guy. Digital just does not do it for me and, in fact, is not good for note taking and such at all, and that also according to scientists.

The paperless office isn't here yet and personally I doubt that it ever will be, considering how long it has already been talked about. I still prefer printed material, particularly for longer documents and books as, apparently, do many other people, and not just those of my age and I admit that I am getting a little long in the tooth.

Among some young people the typewriter – yes, the typewriter, would you believe it – even the mechanical – is making somewhat of a comeback and the Russian security services have, because of cyber hacks and other such issues, gone back to typewriters for sensitive material, though in their case to the electric ones.

Did you know that we comprehend and recall more effectively when we read or write with paper vs digital communications? Students surveyed have said they perform better when reading on paper rather than a screen. We also have more emotional connection with hardcopy print because of the physical material, even if you are a “tablet reader”, which I am not. Although, due to the fact that I am amassing some old books in PDF form I am considering getting one solely to be able to more conveniently read such rather than trying a 200 or 300 page book on the PC screen. I find that far too tiring.

When it comes to reading – and I tend to do a fair number of book reviews – I prefer paper copy over electronic and, in fact, refuse to review digital copy, especially if this is of a printed book. In the latter case mostly for the reason that you cannot judge the quality of the book from a pre-print PDF, in my opinion. The feel of the book, in my view, is as important, at least when it comes to physical hardcopies, as the text.

When it comes to writing, especially notes and article drafts there, to me, is no alternative to pen and paper. At times this may be just literally on the back of an envelope, other times in my own little note-taking system while at other times it is in proper notebooks. Also, when we use pen and paper, whether notebooks or other forms, such as I do with a stack of specially folded sheets in a wallet, for our thoughts, articles drafts, or whatever, the data is secure in that no power failure or other technical glitch can destroy it. It is safe from anything but fire and the shredder. A main battle tank could run over my notebook and I will still be able to retrieve the “data” from it. There are also no batteries to fail or any such kind of problems. One of the many reasons that I stick to pen and paper for many things.

While being no Luddite, as you can see, with this article being on the Web and typewritten on a PC I have never lost my connection with pen and paper though, thus I hardly, myself, have to rekindle it. Alas, my handwriting is not the beautiful cursive kind but capital letters. I have tried cursive but it is too slow for me and I can print write much faster, thus following my train of thought.

And, as far as reading is concerned, I have, so far, never, owned an e-book reader though am currently considering investing in one to read larger PDF files. In general, however, it is only the printed book that will ever do it for me. There is something about the printed book, handling it and turning the pages and all that. There is something special about it in the same way as there is something special about writing by hand, even if it is just in capitals, as in my case.

© 2018