Writing In The Clouds


Stacks of notebooks were a common sight on my desk and in my office during the years I worked at the Times-Herald. The rectangular, spiral bound notebooks contained all my interviews, high school athletic game notes, school board and city council accounts and anything else I needed to jot down. Older notes, dated with a list of contents on the cover, migrated into a desk drawer, box or shelf in case future reference would be desired.

Over more than 20 years I did have occasion to record interviews and meetings though my notebooks were always my primary source for an article. Like other businesses, newspapers have followed the digital transformation -- many publications are now online only. So why, as recent as two years ago, did I still take notes longhand with all the current technology? I think writing helps a person’s focus when interviewing somebody. You decide what is most important in what the interview subject is saying and will later have it right in front of you when the time comes to compose an article.

Working for Keep Alliance Beautiful I see tons of white paper come through our recycling center. It reminds me of when (perhaps rarely) I would take the time to go through my old reporters’ notebooks and recycle those I would never need to reference again. The covers went into the paperboard pile and the pages into our blue office paper bins. It was fun to remember some of those interviews, meetings or games, yet I realized I could just as easily go back and find the published article.

Considering today’s technology maybe nobody really needs to write anything down. For example, voice to text on a smartphone can be used for everything from a grocery shopping list to a nightly journal entry.

There are still millions of people who prefer a good ol’ fashioned wooden pencil and a crisp sheet of paper. Recycling paper is easy and trees are often grown for mills as a sustainable resource.

Recently I learned of a company where the latest digital technology and traditional writing converge. Their products seem like the perfect option for environmentally conscious consumers. First, choose one of their paper notebooks. Next, buy the pen recommended. The pages can be filled and be used over and over thus significantly reducing the amount of paper needed by the writer (or writers) over time.

The ink is key to erasing a filled page or notebook. One style erases the words using a damp cloth and wiping the ink away. When you buy another type, simply pop the notebook in the microwave. When it comes out, presto, the notes are gone.

What if the contents of these pages are something to save? No problem. Each page has a QR code that allows it to be scanned and saved in the cloud. So, by using the product’s app a person can have their children’s drawings, or whatever else, available in a few swipes on their phone.

Writing is a great hobby and one that can be done with minimal impact on the environment. Take some time to dig out paper and an envelope and write a letter. Search online for “reusable notebook” and try the methods described above. Either way, give that pen or pencil some exercise.