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?
Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS