The demise of datebooks?

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Image by Kevin Van Aelst

Anyone else read Virginia Heffernan’s latest column in the New York Times Magazine this weekend? In a piece called “Calendar Daze” — it’s referred to more starkly online as “The Demise of Datebooks” — Heffernan waxed elegiac about her old Filofax:

[It] was also a place for plot arcs, self-invention and self-regulation. It was, in every sense, a diary ” a forward-running record, unlike backward-running blogs. The quality of the paper stock, the slot for the pen, the blank but substantial cover, the hints of grand possibilities that came with the inserts ” all of these inspired not just introspection but also the joining of history: the mapping of an individual life onto the grand old Gregorian-calendar template.

Online commenters quickly began wondering why, if she liked it so well, she didn’t just switch back from her “dull Google version.” I’m wondering why these things are always presented in terms of either/or. As far as I’m concerned, there are features of online calendars that are totally unique and utterly helpful — automatic reminders, for example, which I’ve praised before, and which I’ve come to rely on when I’m working at my desk. And there are strengths of paper planners that digital tools may never match, like the way they encourage creative thinking (as Heffernan writes, her planner “liberated my imagination by allowing for such elegant expression of it”).

Why not take advantage of both?

7 thoughts on “The demise of datebooks?

  1. Computer systems are nice for the alarms/alerts, but after many years of crashes, glitches, and hunching over hot machines, I live out of my paper system.

  2. I read that article and appreciated it. I like the back and forth between the paper and digital. Both have their merits, but I still lean heavily on the enjoyable interplay between ink and paper.

  3. I think having a paper planner and a PDA is fine. If you only had a PDA and it crashed, there goes all your important information. Having a backup paper planner is a good idea.

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