I read an interesting post about postal mail; link here . One of the things that concerns me about digital media is what it means for our future. The article touches on how letters have touched peoples’ lives and how that will change when we no longer have mail. I believe we’ll find this true in other areas of our lives as well. For example, I’ve seen a schedule that belonged to Lon’s wife Kate. Most of the information in it is no longer relevant, but you can still see some of her personality, and how she spent her week. I have a hand drawn Moleskine Reporter from 2008. In the month of October, there’s a place where Lon wrote his contact information and address. I can look at that and remember him writing that in the ICU waiting room.
You can’t do this with digital stuff. I have old stuff that used to be on my Palm and it has no meaning at all. Even old email doesn’t have the same impact as an old letter would. They are not written by hand and do not reveal as much of the writer as a letter would. They are more akin to typewritten letters. I can remember when people used to complain about getting typewritten notes in Christmas cards. They felt it wasn’t the same as a handwritten note.
There are so many ways that technology is causing human interaction to disappear. Take books. Have you ever read a notated book, the kind where someone has written comments in the margins? It tells you something about the person and their interaction with the book. (I’ve never been able to do that myself. I was raised to never write in books. I think the most interesting example of this was a Bible, owned by an older woman that I knew. She had notes everywhere in it and had obviously spent a lot of time studying it.) You can interact with a digital book, but it’s not going to leave a historical record of that interaction.
I think that young people instinctively know this, but can’t articulate it. All of us would like to leave our mark on history, even if it’s in a very small way. It may be that only those most resistant to using technology in the future will leave that mark. For me, I’ll use my digital journal for quick posts and pictures. I’ll keep using my handwritten journal. It may not have significance for anyone but me. Then again, someone might find it interesting a hundred years from now.