Notes: The Power of Paper

My mind is still pulsating from the two days of talks I took in at this past weekend’s IdeaWave conference. So, I’m going to give my brain a break and let you in on what I talked about at the conference. What follows are my notes from my talk, The Power of Paper. I didn’t use a slidedeck for this presentation, as it seemed counter-intuitive to what I was talking about.1
I outlined five points that I believe give paper its power, and smattered some witty banter amongst the points as I went along during my ten minute talk. As you read this, imagine me delivering it (at least until the video of the presentations hit the IdeaWave website). Enjoy.


– set timer to 10 minutes with “Paperback Writer” set as the alarm sound2
– mention Blake Griffin slam dunk contest intro that got quashed (Choir had church; much like Janice’s alcohol, my car not allowed, etc.)
– ask Morgan (the emcee) to hand out sheets of blank paper
– mention that I have more pieces of paper (MOOcards) — should people be interested (plug)


– I’m all for tech (mention iPad, which was mentioned the previous day by Rod Phillips)
– my main planning system is an application on said iPad
– I keep my ideas in Evernote
– I capture electronically; I’m likely not the only one doing this (bring out “old-fashioned” digital voice recorder)
– But I also use paper; I’m likely not the only one doing this either
– My idea is to basically keep paper alive without sacrificing the technology that replaces some of its applications

The Five Points

  1. Paper is simple: Ask everyone if they know how to use paper. Mention that it is easy to use. In the future, it could be subjective dependent on a number of factors (computers, etc.)
  2. Paper is tangible: Helps your memory.  The act of writing creates a memory effect of sorts; there’s a connection. Mention how I use paper for outlining and a computer for fleshing out the outline into full-on writing.
  3. Paper is versatile: It has a multitude of uses (Now have people make something with their paper). Discuss practical applications of paper.
  4. Paper is accessible: It’s inexpensive (disposable to a point). Discuss its use for recipes and how messing it up isn’t an issue…and how that in of itself is valuable. Paper is harder to hide (cloud clutter vs. visible clutter – drive that point home). Paper is ubiquitous/universal; doesn’t have an operating system and is always wireless. You can hand someone paper and they know what it is and what it can be used for. Not so with computers or other forms of tech.
  5. Paper is valuable: Archival purposes; permanence (you own it). Paper’s value is subjective, though (elegant notebooks, expensive or trusted writing instruments, etc. — innovation because of paper not in spite of paper). Show how each of points 1-4 also relate to value.


Ask what people did/made with their paper. Follow up with who drew/wrote with their paper. Comment accordingly.3

Janis Lacouvee mentioned in the very first talk of the conference that (paraphrased): “We mustn’t forget the past as we look ahead to the future.” “Everything old can be new again.”

I’m suggesting that paper continue to be an option in the planning and creation process, rather that one is slowly phased out.

(Before I wrap, show audience that I made a fan with my blank paper, and then use it on myself while reciting this pun…)

“I think that’s an idea worth waving.”4

1 That, and I still don’t trust technology, either.
2 Further to the previous footnote, the alarm did not work. Thus an opportunity for a possible laugh was missed out on…thanks to technology.
3 Lisa Tansey made me a flower, Tori Klassen made me one of these.
4 A play on the tagline from TED.