Thinking About Paper and Scrapbooks: 2 Ways

Thinking About Paper

This continues last week’s discussion about paper, which started with my post on Acid & Lignin.

I’ve been learning a lot about paper and it’s made me think about why I scrapbook.  Here are two wildly different ways to think about paper.  There’s a happy ending, I promise.

Paper is Organic

All paper is organic and will eventually deteriorate.

That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

I think about this when Mr. P is watching episodes of the Universe.  It makes me think of how short and small our existence is, what will eventually happen to our planet, and why I even bother scrapbooking.  Even the most archival quality papers will deteriorate eventually, probably before our planet will.

When I think in those terms, I have to get my head screwed on straight and think about why I scrapbook.  It’s my hobby, I like doing it.  The byproduct of the hobby is something to show to family and friends.  Still, at the end of the day, I’m doing it for me.

Paper is Still a Very Viable Record Format

Let’s look at this from the other direction.  So paper deteriorates.  You know what deteriorates faster?  Much much faster?  Digital media.

After reading the above, you are probably wondering why you should scrapbook and maybe that you should just keep digital files and not print anything.  Wrong!

One of the fascinating things I’m learning as I study paper is how versatile it is.  You don’t need special software to read a paper book.  You don’t need a password.  In our society today, there is such a concern about how to disseminate information quickly and little thought put into long term preservation.

Some even argue that our cultural record of today will disappear faster than the cultural record of the past because today’s record is digital.  Digital material can degrade, become obsolete or become unusable much faster than paper.  There are no standards on how to preserve digital data for the long term.

So, even though paper will eventually deteriorate, it’s actually more reliable than digital.  What’s the point here?  The time you take getting photos off your computer and into scrapbooks or albums matters.  Yes, everything will eventually deteriorate, but paper is still a very reliable method for storing information.

Happy ending?  I’m still scrapbooking!

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8 thoughts on “Thinking About Paper and Scrapbooks: 2 Ways

  1. I really try not to over think it. I too think it’s important to print photos! My sister in law hasn’t printed a photo in 5 years and my own Mother has told me she never wants another printed photo, only .jpgs she can load into her screen saver. But that will never be me! I love my photos and I play with paper because it makes me happy and I do it for me. Accordingly, as long as my scrapbooks last as long as I do, that’s all that matters to me! 🙂

  2. Very, very well said!! If you think about the fact that Floppy Disks – and they were once sooo fantastic!! – are now obsolete but our mothers’ and grandmothers’ old, faded photos and letters are still around, it says so much!! Yes, they are old and faded, maybe even ripped, torn and yellowed, but they are still available to us. It is why I will ALWAYS be a scrapbooker and help others get their projects completed as well. I noticed your blog focuses much more on traditional scrapbooking, but even the digitally designed and professionally printed albums will last longer than the .jpgs on all those computers out there!! This was very encouraging to see today 🙂

    • Yes exactly. It doesn’t matter what the printing method is at all, traditional scrapbooks, digital scrapbooks, photo albums, anything! Just something printed. I have printed photobooks and I’m so happy that my pictures aren’t tied to the computer.

  3. Digital media is nice to share photos quickly, but I agree about printing. While I don’t print every photo that I take, I always try to print the highlights when I take photos.

    Plus, AJ’s dad doesn’t even have a computer (or the internet!) so I have to print anything that we will want to show him!

  4. I often look at my bookshelf full of scrapbooks, and think about the dozens of volumes my daughter will eventually inherit (where will she store them?). I’ll probably have to earmark inheritance funds to build an addition to her home to store them. LOL. Anyway, when I think of the alternative (hard drives full of pictures), I just cringe. I can’t imagine sorting through hard drives full of photos. I can imagine pulling out random scrapbooks to look through.

    • Yes, and we take for granted the idea that the next generation would be able to sort through hard drives. That is very much not a given.

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