I seem to remember a year or two ago reading that the original typewritten manuscript of Bob Dylan’s famous song, “The Times They Are a Changing” had been put up for auction and had fetched almost half a million dollars.
And it struck me that such sketches of songs are less and less likely to be found these days, because most songwriters, like most book writers, work on computers. And as they work so they work over the earlier versions of the song; versions that are then lost.
Of course some writers (particularly of songs and poems) do write by hand and make more and more changes until the script becomes illegible. Then they move to the computer and type up what they have got.
But that process means that there is just one early version of the script – and if that one gets lost or is thrown out, there is nothing else left in the paper trail.
And yet, the use of pen and paper in some areas does continue because pen and paper is so much easier to use than a computer or a mobile phone.
I thought of this the other day when attending a football match with a friend who was making notes for a blog on which he was going to write a report. He used a pen and old-style journalist notebook.
Now I know that the guys who write for the newspapers get to use their laptops sitting in the press box – but they are provided with a desk and PowerPoint, and all the facilities they need. My friend was just doing his report for fun in a lower league ground that didn’t even have a press box. So a pen and paper it was.
He did once try making notes on his phone, but it took so long and was so cumbersome that each time he made a simple note he was in danger of missing the next piece of the action while he was looking down at the screen.
Pulling all these thoughts together I found myself devising a new theory – a theory of how fast we might adapt new technologies, and how we might sometimes use them even when the technology we already have is better than the new technology. For want of a better title I call it Reverse Adaptation Theory.
The theory says that we are tempted to use new technology even when it is less help than the old technology simply because it is new and we like new things, especially if they are bright and shiny. But the fad passes and my theory says that sometimes the pen and paper is more use than the bulky laptop or the mobile phone with its annoyingly tiny keyboard.
It also reminds me of the fact that the spire on the top of the Empire State Building in New York was designed as a mooring point for hydrogen airships which were being used for the first time when the building was constructed. The fire on the Hindenberg brought the whole experiment with hydrogen to a very sudden end in 1937 and thankfully no more airships were moored at the top of the Empire State.
In that case the new didn’t mean good and usable, but rather meant the horribly dangerous. But that doesn’t mean that there is no use for hydrogen in travel – as the Hyundai cars that have a fuel cell that combines hydrogen held in a tank with oxygen taken from the air to create a reaction that then powers the electric motor.
Which really proves my point. Inventions and changes don’t necessarily help in all cases, and certainly not immediately, but they can have a point somewhere somehow.
But if you want to leave your children a valuable early draft or your grand opus, best write it by hand.
And date it.
And store it with Admiral Document Storage.
You can find more information on our storage facilities in the West Midlands by clicking here. Alternatively, please do call us on 0800 810 1125.