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This post has been in draft mode for a long, long time and resurfaced in my memory thanks to various conversations including this one at FriendFeed and this post on e-book reading.

It seems like a great way to get a bunch of librarians really going is to ask “Is paper dead?” and let them have at it.  For the most part, people immediately think of books and that’s how this post started, too.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my own personal paper-to-computer transition has been happening gradually for a few years and didn’t really involve the book aspect until recently.

I’ll start with music.  I’m including this in “paper-to-computer” because CDs are, after all, digital music so it’s not really “analog to digital”.  The change is really in packaging.  In 2003 I went from carrying CDs and a Discman to keeping all my music as MP3s on an iAudio.  Oh, the great magic of shuffle! And playlists that could be longer than a 70 minute CD-R! My listening habits started changing right away.  I eventually moved to an iPod after switching to a Mac and only in the last year have I started downloading a few songs off of iTunes and Amazon.  I still primarily like to own my music on CD because of the paper and physical media (or my perception of something closer to permanence than MP3s).

Gallery Leather

Gallery Leather

My calendar switch took me by surprise.  Before I started grad school, I used the same brand of beautiful little day planners each year.  In my first year of grad school I started using Google Calendar and within two months I wasn’t looking at my paper planner at all.  I was still optimistic that I would find some reason to use the paper planners (and still bought the same brand of beautiful little planner even last year) but found that I was adding events to my online calendar from too many different places (home computer, work computer, cell phone) to keep my paper calendar “synced” anymore.  For a back-up, I use iCal.

Grad school also changed my reading habits to some extent.  Perhaps reading blogs paved the way, but I found myself reading most of my articles for class as PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Pro, where I could highlight, bookmark, and annotate very quickly and then easily search my notes during class discussions.  At ALA Midwinter this past January I used a friend’s iPod Touch rather than lugging around a laptop.  Out of sheer boredom I started reading an e-book (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) on the plane trip home.  Once I got my own Touch, I continued reading on the bus trips to campus each day.  It was just so darn convenient!  The downside for me, however, was the lack of a trusty paper bookmark that I’m accustomed to using for jotting notes and quotes.  Right now my bus trip book is a hardback paper book again, and the trusty paper bookmark is almost full.  I could possibly keep a scrap of paper with the Touch for such notes, but I usually use the book as support when I’m writing the note and I wouldn’t want to press on the Touch like that.  For the most part, I think I would just use e-reading for the kind of books I would check out from a library and not actually own.  In other words, fluff books for pure entertainment.  All other books, I will continue reading as paper for a while longer.

And now in the last couple weeks I’ve made the paper-to-computer transition that was the hardest but the best:  journaling.  I have a small chest full to the brim of paper notebooks I’ve used as journals from the past 20 years (what?? not going to think about the implications of that…) and I’ve been toying with the idea of moving this very personal ritual to the computer for over a year but kept resisting.  I was too attached to the physical act of using pen on paper to give up paper journaling until recently when I looked through my current paper journal and realized that in the last 3 months I’ve only written 11 entries, the most recent being a month ago.

The final push came from talking with a good friend who had been using Word as a journal platform for some time now and who was generous enough to show me how he set up his files.  He used a new Word document for each month, with many entries that were simply a line or two.  Some days had several of these brief entries, some days were skipped entirely, and some entries were longer, more reflective.  For some reason, I never gave myself this much flexibility in my paper journaling and that is most likely one of the reasons my journaling had become so infrequent.

VoodooPad Journal

VoodooPad Journal

So I started journaling in VooDooPad, creating a page for each month with links to the page for each day that has any entries.  Sure enough – in the month of March alone I had 21 entries.  The most surprising benefit to me was how much more easily (and flowingly?) I could write when typing than when writing by hand.  I also appreciate the ability to search all my entries at once and back up the journal in multiple places (a factor that worries me a little re: my paper notebooks).  I’m not convinced yet that I have the right structure going (year / month / day) but it’s working for now.

With such big parts of my life now in my computer, I wondered what paper habit might be next to make the transition.  I looked around my apartment and here are some of the paper things I found:
to do lists / grocery lists
checkbook (only used for rent, though)
hand-outs from presentations
concert programs / tickets / flyers
class hand-outs & notes
receipts
doodles / outlines / sketches
paper scraps from collage book workshop
coupons
greeting cards

I have a shelf full of blank notebooks of various colorful bindings and another shelf of blank notecard box sets, one of which I use each month when I send my paper rent check to my landlord.

And honestly… do I *want* all these paper things to turn into bits & bytes?  I have to say “no” because I do still have a love affair with paper.

… like the others.

The context: Christmas songs.

The exceptions: Songs that mention a winter holiday but are not in spirit, sound or otherwise, holiday music.  Some of these songs are downright beautiful and I have to stop in my tracks whenever I hear them (Hallelujah, River) but they certainly do not put me in a festive or celebratory mood.  In fact, they can be  downright depressing.  Yet they are included in “holiday” compilations and played in stores with the usual holiday music.

Do we have here a case of subject / keyword confusion?  You decide:

“Hallelujah” written by Leonard Cohen (my favorite renditions are by k.d. lang and Allison Crowe)

One of sexiest and saddest songs ever written, but this “hallelujah” is not the Christmas-Baby-Jesus kind of hallelujah:

well, maybe there’s a god above
but all i’ve ever learned from love
was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
it’s not a cry that you hear at night
it’s not somebody who’s seen the light
it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

“River” written by Joni Mitchell

She just went through a break up.  She’s thinking of running away.  Not holiday music:

I’m so hard to handle
I’m selfish and Im sad
Now Ive gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I made my baby say goodbye

“New Year’s Day”  written by U2

Okay, maybe this one is just me, but every time I hear this song I think it’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and that doesn’t put me in a holiday mood either, as much as I adore U2:

And so we’re told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes
On New Year’s Day

xx

Things I want someone to make for me:

Popabrella

Popabrella

1. a camera umbrella that attaches to the tripod mount but still allows me to attach any tripod, too

CHECK:  someone has already made this!

2. a program that gives me slick graph reports of my iTunes library, kind of like Trends in Google Reader or like this guy’s pie chart or something that combines all these programs together with easy GUI goodness.

Which artists do I have the most music from?  Which artists do I skip the most often? What are my top genres by frequency in playlists? I need to know these things.

… to one of my all-time favorite bands: Pink Martini.  This song, especially, makes me feel happy whenever I listen to it and I just found a clip of it from the Letterman Show, so I have to share:

New Blog!

Starting February 2012 I'm combining my two blogs into one:

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sara.q.thompson [at] gmail.com

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