It is one of my (perhaps many) quirks that I thumb through periodicals to which I subscribe from back to front, tearing out the articles of interest for later reading and discarding the carcass in the paper-recycling bin. With periodicals that I keep for reference, like Harvard Business Review or my fishing journals, I dog-ear the pages and underline important passages, but I still read back-to-front. The reverse order reading practice may have started with PAW 40 years ago when I began receiving the magazine that I still very much enjoy reading. The Letters section up front was always the most entertaining, so I saved it for last, but Class Notes and sports (which used to be at the back) were the most important first reads.
So, as it happened, when my Nov. 18 issue of PAW arrived here in Sweden in early January, I came upon an excellent article by Brian No ’10, “Putting the Kindle to the test,” before arriving at the President’s Page written by the University’s vice president for information technology, Betty Leydon. I was amused to read that Ms. Leydon believes I am “clearly someone who finds today’s ever-expanding number of new technological devices and tools both amazing and overwhelming” because I was reading PAW on “something as quaint as paper.”
Those who know me and my work would hardly call me “technologically challenged.” It just so happens that I like books and magazines and newspapers in paper form, for many of the reasons listed by Brian No in his short evaluation of the Kindle in the classroom. I did not suffer Kindle envy on a recent flight as I sat reading Professor Paul Krugman’s Return of Depression Economics while the person sitting next to me moved through a Grisham novel on his Kindle. My book is not (yet) available on Kindle, and I got to read right up to the time we deplaned. He didn’t.
When the e-book technologies settle down and the bugs are worked out, I will add a Kindle or a competitor’s device to my collection of useful electronic tools for business use, but I will not get the same joy out of reading a book or a magazine on a digital device as I do from reading on paper. That does not make me or other like-minded people technologically backward. Ms. Leydon says that we should “remember that the most successful technologies are those that keep things simple and solve real problems.” PAW in print form cannot get any simpler, and, more importantly, it does not create any problems that I don’t have at present, especially since it is most assuredly printed on recycled paper, isn’t it?
Oh yes, about receiving my issues a few months late because I am geographically disadvantaged: I don’t mind. I get the Princeton team scores online, and any important news from my classmates arrives via e-mail. PAW in print form is pure enjoyment.