The yin: I can now print from my iPhone.
The yang: Google Books is ready to serve up more free ebooks than I could ever hope to read in my lifetime.
I printed something that wasn’t a contract to be signed for the first time in months. I did it as a lark. I wanted to see if I could print from my iPhone. Now that I have that working, I was trying to figure out under which situation I would actually do such a thing. I no longer have to print board passes. I meet primarily online. I edit collaboratively as much as possible. The unprofessionally printed page is losing almost all context in my life. But, this is no big surprise. I knew that the printer was waining as a resource for my working life for years. And yet, I am finding myself energized by my zeal for getting rid of it. I find myself more and more excited about “going paperless.”
Instead of drawing diagrams on napkins, I get out my iPad and make them hyperlined mind maps. Instead of writing out things on sticky notes or even on the back of my hand, I jot myself a quick email or I just speak into my phone and have it transcribed. It is almost ridiculous just how little I want to do with paper.
I still have yet to read an entire book on a digital device.
I still have yet to find a way of actually taking notes on top of text in a way that makes sense as much as using a pen and literally writing in the margins.
I still can’t get over the smell of a bookstore or the feeling of feeling the amount of pages I have left as I try not to look at the clock because I know it is way to late to stay up reading.
I have yet to have a transcendent reading experience in a digital format.
But, I can no longer feel good about printing or writing things out longhand. I no longer can see the notebooks that I used to be so proud of as things that will outlive me. With the sheer amount of information out there, it makes me entirely afraid that no one will ever have the time to go back through the things I have scrawled on paper and make sense of them (least of all me).
Perhaps that is it.
Maybe in the age of permanence and ever-presence, I am so fearful that by putting myself on paper, I am setting myself up to be forgotten. If I don’t take digital notes, they don’t really exist. If I don’t tweet what is going on, it never happened.
I feel like paper is like the Neverland of text. It makes you forget what is real. It lets you transport yourself away from the realities and distractions of all of our digital existence. It is beautiful and unique, but it is fleeting.
Perhaps we are coming to the point in the story of text in which we have to grow up. We can escape from time to time, but printing from the iPhone isn’t going to bring back our joyous moments of forgetting responsibility and working on characters that will never see the light of day.
Paper is precious, and I hate it for that.