The Power of Analog Writing.

November 5, 2006

When I create materials on a PC that I use for work, often I’ll write notes in pen on the printouts.  I may highlight certain notes and I may even color code the highlights.  I’ll put this material in a binder.  When I need it, I know where it is because it takes up physical space in my office.

I use computers as much or more than most people, but analog writing has a force to it that I never want to give up.  When you create a mark with a pen, it is recorded both on paper and in your mind.  The analog ink stays on the paper and even though paper is fragile, if you take care of it, it can last for centuries.

Digital jottings get lost on the terabytes of computer space in my office.  I’ve been writing on PCs since the early 1980s, but very few of those documents survive today.  I have paper writings that are far older than that.  But it’s even more important than just space and ease of locating.  Once you find a digital document, it’s easier to search than old handwritten stuff.

No, analog writing serves to drive home a point.  A jotting or a note augments what I’ve created digitally and then printed to paper.  The pen is no longer suited for primary writing.  I’m never going to write more than a page at a time in longhand (printing, not script, I haven’t used cursive in years).  The pen is key for the quick note.  It’s almost as though all the power of the pen has been focused from it’s history into what it is today.  Even though it’s utility is diminished, it’s still supreme for memorializing thought.  No gadget has ever taken that away; I don’t believe any every will and I’m thankful for that.


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