Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Paper Is Forever

By Liz Adair

I don’t trust electronic copies. In the first blush of new computer ownership, I reveled in the ease of keeping copies of letters I wrote to children and family. No need to worry about piles of filing accumulating in a bin when, with a few simple keystrokes, a copy could be etched forever on a five-and-a-half inch floppy disk and kept for posterity. Years later, I realize that my current posterity has never heard of a floppy disk, and the letters are irretrievable, since we haven’t had a computer with a five-and-a-half inch drive for well over a decade, and even if we did, I doubt my current word processing program could read it.

I do have a letter, though, written by my great, great grandfather in 1856. I have a fistful of letters written by and to my grandmother, who died in 1965. And, I have every letter I ever wrote my mother, including one from Girl Scout Camp in 1954, but all before the advent of the computer.

I love computers and the ease of storing files electronically, but my mantra has become Make a Hard Copy! Paper is low tech, but that is its virtue. It will last. And last. And last. Especially now that most good quality bond paper for photocopying or printing from a computer is acid free.

So, I urge all to hit that print button, be it for an email written or received or a piece of research found. Take the time to make a copy and a little more time to file it. Ten or fifteen years hence, you’ll be glad you did.

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