More on Paper vs. Screen: The Creative Process

I thought that, as a reasonably quick reader and a user of a laptop that sips 8W of power while in use1, it would almost always make sense for me to work with content electronically (To Print or Not to Print?).  While sitting in a meeting, it struck me that, on an almost daily basis, there are pages of text with which I spend more than an hour.  I was, of course, thinking about writing my depth paper.

As an someone who lives in Ontario, spending so much time on a page seems to be bad, from a carbon perspective.  While I doubt my colleague Jon Pipitone is the slowest writer evar, even when I’m at top speed, I can rarely crank out a page of text an hour.  Notes from multi-hour meetings rarely result in even a page of hand-written notes.  If Ontario had cleaner energy, it might make sense for me to type on my laptop (though not with a desktop, unless we’re using, say, wind power), but as things stand, handwriting or typing on my iPod Touch seem to be the choices with the smallest carbon footprint.

As a relatively fast reader with a particularly energy-stingy laptop, consuming content on a screen is an easy decision (okay, it’s hard to read from a laptop while standing on a subway…).  But for laborious content creation, I’m going to try to use paper or an iPod from now on (e.g. note-taking and first-drafts for things that don’t require a computer).  While I haven’t done an analysis, I doubt the use of a mechanical pencil is that much worse than creating a toner cartridge.  My handwriting is small enough that I won’t be using too much paper.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the problem of my illegible writing.  Will somebody please pass me a typewriter?

  1. With the screen turned low and with wi-fi turned off. []

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