On Paper, Kindles and New Year’s Resolutions

The time has come for people to start making new year’s resolutions; eat less, workout more, make new friends, etc. I’m typically pretty bad at keeping whatever resolutions I make, so for the past few years I’ve shied away from making any. Regardless of how you feel about the tradition, I suppose a new year does provide some sort of tangible “reset” button for one’s life (or at least aspects of it). In that spirit, I’ve decided to make a few new year’s resolutions for 2011…I share one of them with you here.

This past summer, my awesome wife allowed me to indulge in a rather extravagant purchase…a briefcase from Saddleback Leather. My rationale behind making such a purchase was (and is) complex: I was tired of purchasing bags that were bound to fall apart after a couple of years; I was tired of having bags that looked like garbage (because they were falling apart); I needed a bag that could handle whatever I decided to put in it.

The last bit of rationale is what has led me to one of my resolutions for 2011 — use less paper.

Here is a picture of my bag:

Here is a picture of the contents of my bag on a pretty normal day:

In case you can’t tell how much crap is in the front divide, here you go:

This bag is built like a tank, and its weight matches its build. Seriously, it is heavy. With my tendency to load it up with a few books, folders filled with class materials, my laptop, power cord, pens, etc., it can weigh in easily at over 30 lbs. That is a conservative estimate. Needless to say, my back muscles have seen amazing growth over the past 6 months. That said, the other day I journeyed to campus after having emptied the bag of most of its contents — the semester was over, and all I needed was my laptop and a couple of small items. The feeling of walking around without all that weight over my shoulder was invigorating, to say the least. So, for 2011, I’ve decided that I’m going to explore some ways to travel with less weight. I imagine that this resolution will take many forms, but at a basic level, it is going to involve using less paper.

I have already taken a first step to accomplishing this goal — the purchase of an Amazon Kindle. I’ve only had the thing for a few days, but so far it is really impressive. I can load it up with all those articles that I want to read, as well as class notes, syllabi, paper drafts, etc. The process of taking notes and highlighting on the Kindle is going to be a learning curve, but what isn’t these days? To be honest, I don’t see myself purchasing electronic theology books for the Kindle any time soon. For starters, if I’m going to shell out $20-30 bucks for a book, I want to have the book and not just a file. Moreover, the Kindle’s electronic format doesn’t preserve page numbers, so if you want to cite a book that you’ve purchased through their store, you have to go find the actual book anyway. That said, the majority of the weight that I find myself carrying these days is comprised of articles and assorted printouts for class, and the fact that uploading and reading .pdf files on the Kindle is quite simple lessens the need to print out everything that I come across.

Its a small start, but a start nonetheless. After I get more accustomed to the Kindle, I’ll likely post some sort of review regarding its usefulness for the purposes listed here (if you’re interested).

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