Monday, July 25, 2005

Microsoft disses paper and pen

Microsoft has launched "Stationery Is Bad," an ad campaign to promote a product called OneNote. Says the website, "Let's face it. Stationery isn't very good. And when it comes to note taking, it just isn't up to the job."

Oh really? This campaign is supposed to be "humorous," but I find it insulting to my intelligence and to my sense of reality. The advantages of paper-based communication have been recounted many times. Does Microsoft really believe that saying something makes it so?

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

don't worry dude, I doubt anybody is trying to insult your intelligence specifically, though there is a chance that you might have missed the point. There are many reasons why i would choose a horse or a donkey over an automobile....

Michael Leddy said...

It's really a matter of context, isn't it? For a steep narrow trail, a horse or donkey is a better choice than a car. For getting around Manhattan, a bicycle or a pair of shoes can be a lot more useful than a car.

Digital tools have their advantages, sure. But for taking notes, paper has plenty of its own. Consider, for instance, how easy it is to connect distant points with a long arrow, to emphasize with multiple underlinings, to add an unrelated marginal note ("Buy milk on way home"). Paper is eminently portable: I can carry a pocket-sized Moleskine and jot notes anywhere. (I've tried with a Palm, and it's simply too tedious.) And paper is easy to archive and to retrieve without transfer from form of data storage to another. The vinyl-floor-tile-sized Displaywriter disks that hold the drafts of my dissertation have been useless to me since about 1985, but my college notebooks from thirty years ago are still as good (i.e., available, readable) as new.