Paper is Mobile Too

Just before we set off yesterday from Boston to Philadelphia, I asked me wife if we had directions. We’ve made the trip many times before, but we were using an itinerary we hadn’t used before. Route 95 from Boston all the way down to NYC worked well, as did the NY Botanical Garden as a leg-stretch and lunch stop.

Judy reminded me that we now have an Android phone with Sherpa, and so don’t need printed directions. Soon after we got onto the road and onto Sherpa, she was pulling out a dead tree roadmap. When I laughed, she said that while Sherpa was great, the small screen isn’t ideal for the big picture of a route. She’s right, and on the other side of the coin, Sherpa was great at getting us from the Garden back to 95.

I’m now making sure that I have Judy’s cell number, not only on the Android, but also in my notebook. Again with the dead trees: I’m not referring to a small, portable computer. In the same notebook are the details of the flight I have to meet at Dulles in a couple of days.

I’m too old, or perhaps even too wise, to rely too much on these new-fangled electronic gadgets. By the way, our first stop on the trip was at the Dedham (MA) Panera for breakfast. Almost all the power was out there…

Media: Praise for Paper

NYerClowesWe the parents each took some reading matter along to Kids Fun Stop on Sunday morning. When we got there, we saw that they have wireless, and wondered if we should have brought computers.

While we were there, I read (some of) the New Yorker, which is the only magazine that arrives in our house by subscription. With a PC, I could have done the same reading online. For example, here is an interesting article on the question: Should creative writing be taught?

But I was better off with the magazine in paper form. It’s very portable (important when one is keeping kids in view), boots quickly, offers excellent print resolution, etc. Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been struck by the advantages of paper, it won’t be the last, and many others make similar remarks.

I wouldn’t consider it worthy of remark were it not for the illustration that adorns the cover of the current issue. A space traveler sits among gadgety debris, happily absorbed in a book. So: praise for paper; and kudos for Daniel Clowes, the artist.

Printable Blogs

It should be easy to get a good print of a post or page from a blog. I like to think that’s true of this blog. If so, it’s no thanks to me: my tinkering with the style sheet for the Simpla theme has not included anything specific to printing.

A couple of posts reminded me of this today. One, at ReadWriteWeb, concerns a printer-friendly version of RWW. It’s an example of a post in which the best points are in the comments, rather than in the original post. Summary: printer-friendliness is a job for the stylesheet.

The other post is Jeremiah Owyang’s account of the Community Manager role, which I’ve had cause to refer to and forward to others. There looks to be some great stuff in the comments, as well as in the original post. So I’ve taken advantage of the printer-friendliness of Jeremiah’s blog to run off hardcopy as part of my lunchtime reading.

Of the many silly predictions made about computers, the one that makes me smile the most is that they would reduce the amount of paper used. I regard computers and paper as complements, rather than as substitutes. To put it another way, paper is an information technology, and often a very effective and appropriate one.

Thoughts on Old Media

Every now and again, I see something about how old physical media, such as paper, will outlast newer media, such as the disc that this post will be stored on. There was such an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

The confusing thing is that digital memory offers the illusion of permanence. Even when people would like to see a file disappear, for instance, delete just doesn’t seem to last forever – whether it is on social networks like Facebook, or e-mails or text messages that surface years later.

The article refers to services to convert analog music to digital. I shed my last vinyl records the last time I moved, a few years ago. Next time I move, it’ll be time to shed my cassette tapes.

The ones I took care to keep during the last move are the tapes of Richard Thompson live shows. Perhaps I should convert them to digital. But I haven’t played them in years, and I can probably find the same or similar stuff on the web.

By the way, I read the Globe article on paper, and I paid money for it. And some of you were thinking that owning cassette tapes marked me as a dinosaur…