Will the iPhone Be the Death of the Journal?

Oh, no, of course not–not if you’re talking about art journals or sketchbooks–the kind of tactile, visual journal that just can’t be captured on a screen. Of course not. But what about other journals, the kind most of us keep even if we have another, separate, visual journal?

I have kept journals–some more visual than others–since 1973. Before I started tossing them out (don’t gasp–it’s OK) a couple of years ago, there were about 150 volumes. Although many of them have been hand bound, some in leather, and although some of them have rather a lot of visual stuff–bad sketches, lots of photos, stuff pasted in from magazines–they are, for the most part, working notebooks. They’ve always been where I think things through, make notes and lists, capture ideas, write down things I don’t want to forget. For years, I’d go through one every couple of months or so, depending on how big they were and how many pages they had. The smaller Moleskines went more quickly than the large ones I made from antique yearbook covers. Over the last several years, though, I’ve really slowed down. Now it may take a whole year to finish one, and I just realized why. It’s kind of scary, in a way, but the truth is that my iPhone has replaced many of the functions of my journal. I no longer paste photos into a notebook; I have the photos on my iPhone, and that’s so much easier and quicker and cheaper than printing them out and adhering them somehow–double-stick tape, those tedious little photo corners, the dried-out glue stick–to the pages.

I not longer carry my notebook with me to take notes because I have Notes, that amazing app that sends the note to all my mailboxes so that I don’t even have to remember to go back and look at the notes–they show up on my iMac, reminding me of whatever-it-was I wanted to remember.

I don’t carry a calendar, nor do I print out pages and insert them into my journal. Now my calendars are all synced, with pre-set reminders arriving for everything. No matter where I am, the consolidated calendar is just a click away.

Once upon a time I used to write first drafts of writing projects in my journal. Now, with WriteRoom and a BlueTooth keyboard, I can do all that on the iPhone and have it emailed to my computer, where I can copy and paste it into a document, ready to be edited into a draft.

Is all this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. Sometimes I miss the companionship of the journal, something I carried with me everywhere. For a while, long, long ago, I even rented a large safe deposit box for my journals–they were that important. But over the years they’ve become much less so–obviously, since I’ve tossed a lot of them. Now I see them more as assistants, rather than friends, and I find that the younger, newer, snazzier assistants can help me be ever-so-much more organized and productive. A good thing? A bad thing? I don’t know.

No, I don’t know how I feel about this. If I were someone for whom saving things was important, a paper journal would still be vital. I’d want actual photographs and ticket stubs and letters and notes in a place where I could visit them and touch them. But that’s not me, not any more–I want less stuff, and I want the stuff I do have to be functional and useful so I can spend my time making the things I like to make rather than taking care of stuff I’m saving. For me, whatever it means, the iPhone has, to a large extent, replaced my journal. Sometimes it makes me a little sad, but most of the time I’m amazed at how useful this little tiny computer is and how much it helps me accomplish, and I’m too busy altering clothes to curl up with a journal, anyway. Someday that may change, but for now, the journal is all but neglected.

What about you?


RicΓ« also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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9 Responses to Will the iPhone Be the Death of the Journal?

  1. Jinx says:

    i think technology is a choice. And any technology i may have i have been dragged to kicking and screaming. lol. I keep a handwritten journal for the last 25 years. I started when pregnant with my daughter. At first it started out more of chronological listing of every day things. When she turned over, her first step and has since evolved into what it is now. Keeping up with day to day things became too difficult. I felt like i was always playing catch up. This is what i did yesterday…….last week……. now i just write about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes a rant, sometimes current events whatever. Much more pleasant that way. I fight technology everystep of the way. I was probably one of the last people in the world to get a cell phone. πŸ™‚ The one i have now is an old discontinued one from Sprint LG. Its my fav shade of purple with doodles all over it. All i use it for is phone calls and have recently jumped on the texting bandwagon. I don’t need technology for my work like you do. Do you think you would make a different choice if you didn’t need it for your work???

  2. Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

    Jinx, that might very well be exactly right: if I’d never had to have any of this for work, I might have bypassed it all. I don’t know, though–with arthritis in my fingers, it’s easier to type than it is to hold a pen. I didn’t write about that in the blog post because 1) it’s kind of depressing and 2) it’s so common, and nobody else wants to look down at their own fingers and heave the big sigh. But, yeah, I’m guessing I would have just stayed with the cell phone. And, no, you weren’t the last person to get one. That would be my husband, who hates technology and All Things Phone.

  3. katy92 says:

    I sure hope not! At the rate I’m going, it will be quite awhile before I get an iphone because I can’t come up with enough reasons to have one. I rarely take photos, I don’t text (don’t like to), I don’t have to have email every second and my datebook is a nice sturdy paper and board with good art and plenty of space to write. Part of my aversion to much of the new technology is the tinyness of it! Sure it’s nice and light, but for me, that makes it all the easier to drop it!
    That said, I love the feel of paper, the fact that I can put almost anything on it – paint, ephemera, scraps of work paper (from underneath my painting), the huge variety of stuff I can put in a journal. I combine writing and art – doing separate ones hasn’t worked well for me. I have about 50 bound journals with nothing but writing in them and guess what? They are now being shredded! I realized after looking through some of them that all those words were important then, but now? Not really. I’m only keeping my art/writing journals from now on.
    So no, I don’t think iphones will take the place of journals anytime soon, at least not in my world.

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      That makes perfect sense to me. Since I love seeing other people’s journals so much, I would hate it if everyone else abandoned them for technology.

  4. ga0724 says:

    For many years I was committed to using paper. First, using a Day-timer (anybody remember those?) to keep up with work and life commitments. In many ways it became a personal journal as well. And- I felt like many people that if I had ever lost it- it would be a major crisis. After I met my second husband, a computer programmer/analyst and self-proclaimed tech geek my life changed. We are dyed-in-the-wool Apple product users- the iMac, Mac mini, iPhones, and for me, the new Journal is the iPad. I have finally found a journal app that I dearly love. But, because I love paper, and impromptu doodling and art I have a hybrid journal now. I use the iPad to record my thoughts, wishes, dreams and then print the pages to put in my physical, tactile journal. Like Rice, I have an easier time typing as opposed to long hand writing. But, I can “dress up” my printed journal pages and make them mine. The other advantage is that any photos, web images, etc. that are part of my digital journal page print right out with it. So, I have tried to meld the parts of technology that I love to the art journals that I love just as much. In 5 years, it may all be different again.

  5. somefromnone says:

    This is really making me rethink the whole ArtJournal process. Technology definitely has changed me; although I am a late bloomer and slowly learning new applications. I have kept a written journal for 10 years and recently moved over to Scrivener, an application that will not only hold my daily thoughts but will do so much more for my creativity when it comes strictly to the writing process. I am definitely looking at having less clutter around me and technology helps with this aspect of freeing up my living space. I never thought I would move away from the therapeutic practise of handwritten journals but maybe I don’t need this sort of therapy any longer. I used to love the act of my hand writing across the page and the feel of the pen in my hand. I was a die-hard journal writer until my son kept reminding me about my desire for Feng Shui in my living space and his desire for me to learn more about technology. As an growing artist I find there is so much for me to learn and time saving applications and apps allow for portability and convenience while having across the board organization tools at my fingertips. I scrapbook and dabble in mixed-media and many other crafts. I was thinking about art journaling but wondered if I wanted all the “stuff” that goes with it. The only problem is I am a person who enjoys getting my hands dirty and getting into the feel of what I am doing. I think I will combine both – using technology and the “real” art journal for my enjoyment and convenience allowing me to create art wherever I happen to be.