Pen & Paper vs. Smartphone or Tablet

June 22nd, 2015 by Pearson

Once upon a time there were no gadgets, no smartphones or tablets. In fact, there weren’t even dumb phones. For years, the most high-tech device an individual would carry was a wristwatch. And yet people got along fine. Our being here today is proof of that. But did they just not know what they were missing, or does the past hold some secret that might be relevant in today’s fast paced, convenience-obsessed world?

Doing More, Achieving Less
If there’s one thing we can learn from the past, it’s an appreciation for stillness. Today, our lives are constantly in motion. If we’re not busy, we’re planning to do something. We have so many agendas that we need systems to contain them. With so much information flying around, we’re constantly looking for ways to store it. This leads us to using gadgets with bigger memories, better programs, and organisational systems, which takes up a huge amount of our time.

Our ancestors, it seems, had only two steps when it came to getting things done. First, they wrote their thoughts down using a pen on paper. Secondly, they actioned all of the plans they set out to do. The rest of their time was spent doing things that are less popular today, such as being with family, and following intellectual pursuits like reading, books. Over the years, their note-taking techniques became quite advanced. They even had a special ‘app’ called calligraphy which allowed them to change fonts with relative ease.

The Battle for Hearts and Minds
It’s important to remember that tools are only as good as the person who uses them. We like to think that our modern gadgets are far superior to pen and paper. However, based on purely practical concerns, here is a comparison listing some of the advantages and pitfalls of each system.

Pen and Paper:
• Cheap and effective
• Has a personal touch
• Can’t get accidentally deleted
• Quick and easy to use on a small scale
• Paper can be used as kindling for a fire

• Gets lost
• No automatic spelling checker
• Takes a long time to send
• Bulky on a large scale
• Paper cuts

Smartphones and Tablets:
• One device, many functions
• Eliminates messy handwriting
• Allows for instant communication
• Discreet small size
• Professional finish on documents

• Needs to be charged
• Expensive
• Eliminates penmanship
• May contain conflict minerals such as Colton

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference how you choose to record your data, and communicate with others. The choice, however, appears to be less about functionality and more about style. Those wordsmiths who prefer the comforting scrawls of longhand will stick to it, but may also succumb to Apple in the name of fashion. Regardless of the fancy new uses of techy devices, the accessibility of paper ensures that it’ll be around for a while.