“Data” has become the default word used to describe the constantly generated, centrally stored evidence of our existence. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the word “data” comes from the Latin for “to give,” and refers to something that is given or relinquished. It also feels significant that data rests at the very bottom of the so-called knowledge hierarchy — below information, knowledge and wisdom.
For everything that’s gained by our ability to store and maintain more information than ever before, something is lost that has to do with texture, context and association.
I read this article in the New York Times on Sunday by Carina Chocano, and it completely struck me. The writing not only was impeccable, but the message really came through. In an age of technology and finding a quick answer on your phone versus digging into the recesses of your memory, it may be a good time to take a step back.
My good friend – also a writer – decided to ditch the iCal and write all of her appointments in a book planner. We went to a cafe the other day and we both were writing – me with my computer and her with her pen and paper. I adore technology. However there are many times that I am so happy that I take a walk without music, or I actually do write that hand-written Thank You card. Think about it from a business perspective.
If you are at a networking event on your phone in the corner, maybe you are missing out on meeting that great contact or partner because another person is there shaking his or her hand. And instead of asking, “What’s your number?” and plugging it into your phone. Maybe you should ask for his or her business card instead, and write a note on it to remember details about your actual conversation so you can bring it up when you reach back out.
Yes it’s good to stay up to speed with technology. However, there is nothing wrong with appreciating the inspiration of that technology. In fact, I’ve noticed personally that my handwriting has gotten even worse than normal (and trust me, it’s pretty bad). I received a brand new blank book from my mother for Christmas last year, and this may be the perfect year to take it out of its saran wrap and put my pen to good use!
Maybe our desire to digitize and archive every little thing is not proof of a fear of forgetting. It’s a manifestation of our urge to remember how to remember.
So readers, I challenge you. Let’s remember to write with a pen, to take a step back, and to appreciate the memories that we experience before archiving in our digital devices.