Paper vs Digital Notes and Vanishing Information

Today I was thinking today about the past. I worked on at project, in the mid-nineties, for Amazon. They were located in a single building in downtown Seattle, very close to Pike Place Market. Nothing to dramatic, just installed terminals in a new call center. I had fun. My main memory: a guy brought his Corgi to work every day. About once an hour, a ball would be thrown down the hall and the dog would tear after it. For me, that exemplified the kind of place I wanted to work.

Anyway, I was wondering what I could pull together from that. Who did I work with? For? Was I there for a week? A month?

All that info? Gone. Yeah, that was quite some time ago. But I’m a rather meticulous note-taker, so am a bit bothered by the information being simply gone.

Now, that was pre-digital anything, really. Ok, the world wide web was a thing (duh, Amazon), but I didn’t own a cellphone yet. There wasn’t a smartphone of any stripe (it would be several years before Handspring would launch the Treo). So, yeah…gone.

Much is made about the fragility of digital record keeping. But there’s fragility to paper, too. Sure, these notes may still exist in some box in my garage. But, most likely, they were tossed out, left somewhere, or… There’s no such thing as backing up paper “stuff”.

When I think about using tools like Evernote, Gmail and all the grand life in the Cloud, I’m struck by a key thing: syncing. My digital information is available cross-platform, cross-device, cross-everything. It’s easy to share (and, yeah, subpoena). Which, to me, sells digital over paper.

Now, I do have paper notes, and journals and notes and…I just need to remember to scan them in, just for a backup. Because, who knows, in twenty years, I might really be interested in where I was today.