I am an iPad. Before that, I was a doodler. What were you?

What was your life like before there were blogs, and tweets and klout scores? How did you spend your days and evenings pre-FaceBook and Google Plus, and is there anything about the old you that you miss?

I’ve been thinking about mine, lately. There was a time I was very much anti-computers, even if used only for typing. It took me years to learn to compose something on a keyboard instead of a notepad.

Cleaning out my garage the other day gave some clues as to why I was always much more comfortable with pen and paper than a gadget of some kind. The answer was in the margins. I doodled. My whole life, while I was taking notes in school, I doodled. There are bits of poetry and random thoughts scribbled in the margins of every page of my many college notebooks, always surrounded by various patterns, circles, lines. The space in the margins was my space, where I could let my mind drift, naturally, to any place it wanted to go, and the pen simply followed. It was an organic sort of thing, nothing I gave much thought to. These snippets of a wandering mind at times resulted in me finding just the right word to finish a particular stanza that’s been driving me nuts for months. These snippets, too, were what made me finally bail on the idea of becoming a lawyer (OJ Simpson trial helped as well), and trade my psych major for English.

doodle

I can't read my handwriting either

When my mind wandered, I wrote. In between scribbling the lines, I doodled, until the next word or sentiment came to me. But it wasn’t a have to, so much as just something that happened. It was always a natural extension of who I am…

Same lack of discipline or purpose, if you will, characterized how I researched stuff, pre-Google. I learned early on that regular books were sacred, and one shouldn’t dare dog ear a page or highlight a bit of text or scribble in the margins of those, but textbooks were different. There was nothing sacred about textbooks – and so those tomes that I still own come replete with my coffee stains, and doodles and an occasional note scribbled in the margins.

I know there are tools and gadgets that allow us now to bookmark and annotate what we read online, but it’s the doodling space in between that I can’t get via a keyboard, and I miss that. I miss the lack of process or purpose, if you will, that led me to consider a new thought, or accidentally stumble on a perfect line. I miss the dreaminess of it all, as if I was guided from without, like a somnambulist on a tight rope, waking up only upon reaching the other side. I miss, above all, not thinking about the purpose of any given bit of text, and letting the language itself unravel my journey, word by word…

None of it then, of course, had anything to do with making money, so words were still just words, and not keywords, or tags. They had letters and sounds and connotations, not tails, whether long or short… They were used, mostly, to tell a story. I miss that.

What do you miss, about you?

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4 Responses to I am an iPad. Before that, I was a doodler. What were you?
  1. Matthew Perren
    September 2, 2011 | 3:45 am

    I found you via Neal’s post too. It was a great piece and one I wish more people would read. I’m going to punt it out on our business and my personal twitter feeds.

    With regards paper….I have a note book open and resting under my forearms as I type. It’s covered in the sort of crap that only I can understand and that makes everyone who looks at it believe that I am a madman. It’s all arrows with me….how very Freudian.

    • Inna Hardison
      September 2, 2011 | 10:04 am

      Matthew – too funny on the arrows thing. Mine always went through weird stages of angles and patterns (circular reasoning?) …
      Thanks for the compliments on the guest post and by all means, send it off to biz peeps. If we can collectively prevent more crap from hitting the Interwebs, as subjective as “crap” is, we’d be communicating in a slighter more nifty space, methinks.

      Good to “meet you”:-)

  2. Glenn Hansen
    August 31, 2011 | 6:23 pm

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way. “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought …”

    I found your site via your guest post on Neal Schaffer’s blog. Great piece on blogging, that I will use to finish a pitch I’m making for corporate blog account. Thanks, Glenn

    • Inna Hardison
      September 1, 2011 | 1:35 pm

      Hi Glenn – and sorry for the belated. Nice to know, indeed. Funny that the suggestions I got from this include some bit of tech. I don’t want tech. I want random pieces of paper populated by words and margins that I can doodle all over.. :)
      Thanks for the compliments on the post on Neal’s site too – and by all means use anything of mine for any purpose.