Categories
Photography Writing

Nostalgia about writing on paper, something more tangible

Jamie Todd Rubin shared his nostalgia about writing in a different time in his post titled “Writing on Paper“. He wrote about a much more tangible experience of writing and, even though I have a preference for digital, I empathise with him to a degree.

Writing on Paper

He isn’t talking about writing on paper in the sense of writing long form with a fancy ballpoint and pages of fine paper. Instead, he looks back at the satisfaction he had typing with a typewriter and seeing the pages accumulating on his desk.

In all the years that I’ve been writing on computer—and I’ve been writing on computer for far longer than I ever wrote on a typewriter—I have never found the experience to be quite as satisfying. It is physically easier for me to write on computer than it was on a typewriter. But it just isn’t as satisfying. I miss the accumulation of pages.

Typewriter memories

I don’t think I did much writing on a typewriter. My writing career began in school where most of my writing was done with a pen on paper and progressed to typing in Wordstar (or something like that) on our family PCs.

The few times I used a typewriter were somewhat satisfying. I vaguely remember the smell of a typewriter and the look of paper that had been typed on. It evokes some degree of nostalgia but not something I would necessarily want to return to.

One thing about typewriters that is appealing is that you just write. There is no messing with line spacing, font sizes or any of that stuff. As Rubin pointed out:

And besides, you can take WYSIWYG too far. Formatting distracts me from what I am trying to write. I am not trying to layout a newspaper or magazine. I’m writing a story, or a post.

This fidgety aspect of modern word processors is what drove me away from MS Word in a cold sweat. It is why I do most of my writing in plain text with MultiMarkdown. The thought of having to mess around with formatting just to write stuff makes me physically ill.

Still, I love the flexibility of digital and the prospect of all my work being fixed on sheets of paper that I can’t backup, edit and publish in minutes on the Web makes me itch.

It’s like film photography

In a way, using a typewriter and paper is a bit like going back to film photography. Digital photography makes us a little lazy. There is nothing to shooting dozens or hundreds of photos because we can filter out the ones we like and discard the rest.

When you make photos on film, you have to be a lot more deliberate about what you shoot and you don’t have that instant gratification of seeing your photo on the camera’s screen right afterwards. You have to wait for the roll of film to be processed and either have prints made or the negatives scanned. That changes the dynamic of photography quite a bit. As Om Malik put it in his post “Experimenting with film photography“:

You also can’t put a price on the lesson you learn with film — think before you shoot. Compose the photo in your mind before you try and press the shutter. And be deliberate.

I’m tempted to find some rolls of film and shoot them with my old film camera but, as with my writing, I don’t see myself replacing digital with film. The flexibility and opportunities to manipulate and share my work means I’d keep returning to digital. I shot a lot of film in school and even managed to get into a dark room a few times.

If anything, I wish I still have the negatives so I could scan them all. That part is increasingly important to me.

My romance is with the Web and with digital sharing, though, not with paper and film negatives (although I have fond memories of my time with both). At the same time, I appreciate Rubin’s words about his longing for a more tangible writing experience. There is definitely something there worth preserving in some way.

Image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Business and work Mobile Tech Useful stuff Writing

Trying out the Ozaki Stylus R with my iPad

Styli comparison

I bought an Adonit Jot Pro stylus a while ago to use with my iPad 3 and I struggle writing stuff on my iPad with it. It seems to jump around a bit. It is possible I am not holding it correctly (or something) but I tend not to use it even though I have some awesome apps on my iPad for notes, drawing and brainstorming stuff visually.

I was at a meeting a while ago with a couple agency people and noticed Ramotse Phalatsi (I think it was him) using a fat stylus and asked him how it works for him and he raved about it. It is cheap and you get 3 for the price of 1. I thought I’d check it out and went to the iStore today. I couldn’t remember the brand but I bought the Ozaki Stylus R which I am pretty sure is the one he was using. The stylus comes with 2 replacement tips so you basically do get 3 in 1. The Ozaki costs R199 (I received a discount due to some sort of FNB Business cheque card promo I was unaware of).

I played around with the Ozaki for a few minutes and it is really smooth and seems to work well. It is definitely chunkier than the Jot Pro (I lay the two styli besides a couple pens and a marker for a size comparison below) but it feels good in my hand. I’ve been taking more handwritten notes in a Moleskine notebook I carry in my laptop bag lately mainly because doing that on my iPad has been more frustrating than its worth.

Stylus and pen comparisons

I think fairly visually so my notes include diagrams and handwritten notes that probably don’t make much sense to other people but that works well for me. My process has been to take a photo of those notes afterwards and stick the photos into Evernote for later reference. If the Ozaki works consistently for me, I’ll have the option of doing something similar on my iPad and just moving the images across to Evernote either using Penultimate’s integration or importing images I create with Paper.

The only catch with the Ozaki is, because of its size and shape, you don’t see the point where it makes contact with the screen so really fine work can be tricky until you get a great sense of how it feels in your hand and where it makes contact. It is very possible I am not using the Jot Pro effectively so I’ll keep working on that. For now, though, the Ozaki works pretty well. I’ll see how well it works when I am using it for a longer time period and how accurate it is. At R199, it’s not all that much to spend if you want to try it out and like the size and form factor.