Virtual Things Leave Little Behind

As we gravitate towards the world of paperless, what does it mean for the old guards like newspapers and notebooks?

I’m sure there are people who are delighted by the switch to digital reading – the convenience of having them everywhere in a portable device is truly hard to beat. In meetings, people are increasingly whipping out their tablets and smartphones in place of pen and paper. They finger type faster and autocorrect can sometimes be valuable in fast-paced settings.

But there and then, the surge of going all digital means we leave little behind. Not legacy, but something tangible to remind us of the journey we have undertaken. The roughed edges of an old newspaper cut-out, the writings on the worn notebook, they are signs of ageing. Just like us, they can’t escape the effect of time. Just like us, they represent a part of our past. The romance of having analog items can be so alluring and humbling.

Imagine what’s it like to be working in a company for 11 years, and suddenly, it was gone. The truth must be hard to rationalise and accept. Brett Peters was unfortunately on the receiving end of this incident.

What’s left is his Field Notes notebooks, 22 of them. For the past 6 years, those notebooks have been with him. The recounts of his work, effort and time and all manifested within the boundaries of those notebooks. I kept the A4 sized diary/ journal when I quitted my last job. Like Brett, they were my sweat. I’m holding on to it as a physical form of recognition, even though no one but myself will really ever re-read it. But it’s important and crucial that I keep a record of this, for it reminds me of my struggles and triumphs.

Life is a lot about memories and journeys. It can be digitalised, and will be digitalised as the next generation grows up surrounded by tablets and stylus. The romance of pen and paper will never fade though. It is the simplest and the most tangible way we reconnect with the past, and I hope to strike a balance between the abundance of digital offerings and the dimimishing tradition of analog.