Last week I had a very interesting conversation with someone younger and much more technologically inclined than I am. The main topic was why anyone in this technological age would choose to use a paper planner instead of an electronic one.
After all, an electronic planner on your device is much more convenient, right? Well, no, in my opinion. I know battery life is getting better, but having to plug in would still be a major issue for me, especially while traveling. Also, I know you are supposed to back up your info on your computer, but even taking that into account I've heard too many horror stories about people's devices locking up/ going dead/ being dropped in the pool and whatever else, causing them to lose all of their info.
I also don't like having to go screen to screen to enter a note or appointment. I want to open my book, write it in, and know that any time I open my book for ever after that it will still be there.
My techie friend asked me if I or Plannerisms readers feel bad about chopping down trees to make paper planners. I was really confused by this question. No, I said, because trees grow back. They are a renewable resource. Especially if the trees come from a well-managed forest, or the paper is made from recycled materials, paper is very much a sustainable material.
The conversation moved on before I could point out that the same is not at all true for electronic devices. The metal, plastic and rare earth minerals used in electronic devices are not renewable, and are dwindling in supply. So if you are looking for a "green" option, paper is definitely it.
Later I went on to explain that a big reason why I prefer paper planners is the long-term record keeping. People have been writing on paper, clay and even lead for thousands of years, and it's these writings that record day to day human lives. Hundreds of years from now there will be a huge gap in our history of this time of things that are lost to technology. Remember floppy disks? Do you still have access to information you stored on floppies? And that was just a few years ago. Technological information storage evolves so quickly that much is lost as technology moves on.
But my friend's reply was, "What about the internet?" I didn't understand this at all. He seemed to be implying that the internet is permanent. I doubt that people 50 years from now will read about their grandparents' lives by reading our blogs on the internet. Undoubtedly technology will be vastly different by then, and the information that's currently on the internet will be lost or inaccessible. Unlike paper, of course, which can be read for hundreds of years.
It was a very friendly conversation, and he was honestly curious so it was in no way a debate over the merits of one or the other. But the whole conversation left me confused. I know I'm from a different generation than he is. He doesn't remember a time before computers so it must seem very permanent to him that the internet and electronics always have been and always will be the way to record information.
I take a longer view: Paper and other forms of writing have been the way human history has been recorded since the beginning, and only tangible forms of record-keeping will survive decades and generations into the future.
What do you think?