This week I finally got around to reading The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax. I really enjoyed the book. I especially liked that in most cases a return to analog was not simply out of a sense of nostalgia, but rather that an analog tool often does the job better than a digital one.
A great example of this is a theme that arises several times throughout the book: when people are brainstorming new ideas, their ideas flow and grow organically better on paper or whiteboards than they do within the confines of an app. Even (or sometimes, especially) in the techiest of fields, people found time and again that the first steps of an idea were of higher quality when expressed on paper. Later, after the idea had been further developed and refined, they were able to move their work over to software apps for completion and implementation.
This is one of the many things I love about using paper planners and notebooks. In an app, you are forced to follow the rules. Text goes into designated fields. Multi-choice options limit you to the prescribed selection. Everything you do has to fit within the parameters of the app.
Not so with paper. It is a blank, open space with no rules on how to use it. If I want to write across day spaces in my planner, I can quickly and easily do so. I can use whatever colors I want for color coding, any symbols I want for designating topics or significance. There’s no waiting for a screen to load or some popup window telling me I’m not using it correctly. I just open my book, and write.
I’m not anti-software by any means. Obviously the right program or app can make our work much easier and faster. But when it comes to creativity and personal freedom of thought there’s no match for the endless, unconstrained possibilities of putting ideas down on paper.