Pen & Paper Optional

I relish information and the process of obtaining it.  For me, the important aspect about collecting information is the way I acquire it.  A recent conversation with my tech savvy son has me reassessing my process.

The astute observation he shared was simply stated.  If I used a computer all the time to retrieve information, I would not need to go to the library, travel across the country to learn about different cultures or use a pen and paper to jot down my thoughts and observations.  If I want to find material on my current topic and finish faster with my writing projects, use a computer for the entire process.

Interesting idea.  I contemplated for a few days about his comment.   Was he right?  Do I give in and use my supercomputer as my only source and way to possess empirical evidence?

In his technology based world, information retrieval time is more advanced and faster compared to my deliberate time spent researching in the library, learning through shared stories, or reading my handwritten notes from reference books. The endless supply of information he taps into daily is instant.  The supply of information I locate is often contingent on the library having the data or records I am inquiring about.  The computer, public library, and my travel are all sources of information that are measureable and specialized, yet he opened up a conversation that computers are faster for finding information, period.

This may be a deeper social phenomenon.

A new wave of information is always forming, oftentimes faster than we can absorb the material generated.  I do not want to miss new theories and ideas that are being presented online, nor do I want to be without my ball-point pen and notepad while accessing information at the local library.  However, I explained to him – life is hands-on learning.  We must never forget to value one of our deepest needs as humans – to connect with other homo sapiens.  Shared collective experiences are important.  One on one interactions with a librarian or classmate are just as significant as connecting to the World Wide Web.

Technology in a short time has and will continue to change our social arrangements.  It is evolving quicker than libraries are being built and books are being printed. How much is too much?  We do not know but we have the choice to participate or not.  It is up to each individual to determine what level of high tech knowledge works best for them.  The evolution of technology is developing faster than humankind.  It is forcing all of us to listen, learn and eventually adapt our ways.

My note taking and means of accumulating data is clearly “old school” compared to my son’s peer group.  This may always agitate me.  I want to silently scream, “Sweetheart, you don’t understand – for me it is the experience of obtaining the information.  It is like a great love affair, getting lost within a world of thinking and feeling – a sense of accomplishment when piecing the intellectual, multi-dimensional puzzle together.”  This is in all probability the same sensory experience he obtains from his input/output method.

Looking directly into his big, brown eyes, my verbal response to him was simply stated. “My thought process is immensely more complicated and complex than the binary code your computer uses to produce facts and figures.  My life experiences are unique to me.  The memories gathered and cross cultural connections formed when I travel are exclusive to me.  My deep conversations with diverse people are pertinent to only me.  It all measures up and counts as valuable information that in my mind is worth gathering the untimely old fashioned way.  The library and discovering new cultures abroad is where I gather information toward the subject matter being presented.  My experiences in life – help shape the ideas.  The computer will continue to be the conduit used for transporting my thoughts to a larger audience and for research, should the other retrieval practices come up short.”

My son continues to think my methods are outdated.  Oh well – I know his note taking skills are nonexistent so it is a stalemate.  I will continue to marvel at this wonderment we call a computer that aids me in typing these sentences and guides me when I am locating a subject when the library is closed.  I will never cease to write down my thoughts with a trustworthy pen and paper or perhaps, a new digital pen?

Published at Life As A

© 2015 Shannon Hogan Cohen

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