I was going to ask "What do African school children -- you know, the ones who walk for miles and miles to get to school -- know that Sugata Mitra doesn't?Read More
I realise that this may be a bit controversial, but for me, paper remains one of the all-time useful tools. When it comes to planning, assigning people to tasks or even doing quick calculations, paper takes a lot of beating. Surely its longevity as a medium is proof of that fact?
I like using mindmaps, and I love using spreadsheets (yes, I should get out more), but sometimes in order to see the 'big picture', these tools just don't cut it.
Recently I was preparing notes for a talk I'm giving in a few weeks. Here's my work in progress:
I could have done that in a mindmapping program, but it would have taken me longer, and it wouldn't have been so useful.
For me, this was useful for two reasons. Firstly, the process itself was good. The physical action of drawing lines, erasing them, circling some notes and linking them to others -- all this helped me to make mental connections in a way that using a computer wouldn't have, because that immmediacy would have been lost.
Secondly, the end result was quite useful because I can see the connections at a glance, and conceptually fit new ideas into it. Again, I know a mindmapping program could achieve the same effect, and perhaps if I had the time I would re-create the diagram in such an application, but I'm quite happy with the paper version.
I'm not the only person who recognises paper as a useful tool when it comes to planning. Have a look at the video on this website to hear what Grammar Girl has to say on the subject, with three great examples.
Bottom line: aiming for a paperless society is all very well, but sometimes, for talks or complex projects, paper is one of the best tools you can use.