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Priorities CAN dent the quest for personal paperless nirvana: Part 2

Moleskine_1 So if you were reading part 1 of my post, you’d remember that I ended proceedings with the ‘cliff-hanger’ statement that over the past few months I’ve harboured some ‘immoral’ paper-esque feelings that contradict my quest to operate 100% paperlessly Aghast! Horror! Shock!

Well firstly I should make it clear that unlike Jason I wouldn’t say that ‘scribbling away with my stylus has lost some of its flare and pizzazz.’ Thankfully I still experience that exact same ‘feel good’ buzz that I did on Day #1 so I’m thankful for that. However it’s the change to my course structure at university that has mainly resulted in me finding less of a necessity to continually scribe via digital ink. My degree course, as mentioned briefly in a previous post, is now more seminar based and consequently contains less lectures. Additionally my scheduled classes are significantly less in number than they were before leaving me more self guided and mobile which has had a significant impact on the way I operate.   

So specifically what are the detrimental feelings that have evolved over the past few months and why?

  • In the different learning environment of seminar groups in smaller classrooms I get a greater sense, probably because the class sizes are smaller, that others see me as some kind of pretentious hotshot but hey I’ve done this for long enough not to let that bother me. On the positive side those who don’t have such preconceptions and take the time and effort to speak to me usually show genuine support for what I’m striving to achieve (hehehe….although there are still a few who throw me that puzzled ‘but why?’ expression :o)). During seminars we also tend to split up into small groups of 3 or 4 to discuss historical issues and texts and I have felt even more so that my TabletPC is presenting a barrier and I therefore tend not to scribe on it during these times.
  • I’ve said many times to many people that the idea of physically scribing in a book (I know that the posh term for it now, aside from annotation, is marginalia :o)) is abhorrent to me even though I am fully aware of the benefits in doing so. Using my TabletPC I’ve always had the benefit of ‘having my cake and eating it’ (or is that ‘having my book and reading it’? :o) ) in that I can plaster my scanned books in marginalia without any damage whatsoever to the original. This has always been a primary advantage of having a TabletPC for me. However over the past few months I seem to have reverted slightly back towards using physical books in order to get my reading done. I have no idea why. Perhaps Jason’s point about ‘understanding material better when it is in physical print rather than onscreen’ is ringing true for me now as well. I’ve got to say that if I’m wresting with comprehending a really complicated concept then the best place for me to crack it is with a physical book in the bath – something I obviously can’t do that with my Tablet. Or alternately perhaps my decline in reading books in electronic format is down to the fact that my main 19 inch monitor died back in September and not having the funds to replace it, I’ve been struggling along with a tiny 14 inch monitor. Whatever the reason though I have noticed this slight decrease in achieving my reading assignments via e-books.
  • I’m beginning to see more and more value in using a computer with a lower footprint i.e. a UMPC. I still consider them to be inherently overpriced at the moment but my increase in mobility and the scenarios and environments I find myself in these days would make the smaller unit more practical. A few months ago I said I could never see myself replacing my TabletPC with an ultra mobile but I’m starting to warm more towards them as a direct TabletPC replacement which is a huge paradigm shift from how I felt before.
  • You may remember a few months back I made a post about two attributes of paper that I miss and one of these was linked to my passion for journaling. Yeah I tried to replicate what I missed using an electronic counterpart but I’ve never really gotten any level of satisfaction. So I’m sorry to confess that in this area I have relented and returned to recording my life in a paper journal. In my defence though I only use a single Moleskine notebook and I never buy a new one until the old one is full. Aside from not being able to replicate that feeling of scribing my innermost thoughts and feelings on paper, I perhaps owe it to my family to leave a legacy of my life (not that I have achieved anything so far that could be considered as extra-ordinary) in a resilient non redundant format and the Moleskine  lets me achieve this. 

I guess ultimately the golden question is whether the paperless novelty is wearing off somewhat and whether I should be looking at changing my web address to the unpaperlessundergrad? :o)

Well quite simply I’d answer No! Absolutely not! Perish the thought! Indeed I’d be the first to admit that it’s sometimes a trial endeavouring to remain as paperless as possible, especially when I live in a country where technology is slow to replace traditional methodology in the academic institutions and workplaces. I truly envy the myriad of institutions in America who embrace technology and those who adopt these innovations are admired and revered for their efforts. Contrast that sharply to where I live, work and study and for the most part people prefer to see ‘pioneers’ like me as an archetypal British eccentric. However if you choose to work in a non-conformist way, that’s a bit different from the norm, then it’s par for the course and I’m well aware of that.

I’d say I’m also not losing my passion for paperless because of one of the primary motives that drives me towards 100% paperless living -  my strong environmental beliefs and my desire to show as much consideration to our valued planet resources are as precious to me now as they were when I first began my paperless quest. Indeed my practice of using potentially un-planet friendly electronic equipment can appear contradictory at times but as always I strive to minimise the impact that these devices may have.

Additionally as I’m academically qualified in computing I feel a degree of obligation to continually use and demonstrate the skills I’ve developed and through my use of technology I feel I’m able to fulfil that obligation and lead by example while paying some degree of homage to my qualifications.

In closing I’d say I’ve not really lost my desire to live and work paperlessly. For the most part my motives are as strong as ever. However the continually changing world of personal priorities means I should do, and have to, constantly re-evaluate the tools and solutions I use to implement my paperless lifestyle. In some situations, such as journaling, I need to get a bit more comfortable with the fact that a paperless solution cannot always be found and as long as I police my paper usage then I can be forgiven the odd paper luxury…..can’t I?   


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