Paper-less?


Am I the only one who is quietly mourning the transition of Exponent II from print to web?

My awakening as a young Mormon feminist came from the stack of yellowed X2s that my Mom gifted to me when I entered college. Another favorite treasure is the box of old Dialogues that sit in my hallway next to shelves that hold my current issues of Irreantum, Dialogue, ExponentII and Sunstone. Whenever I open these publications—both old and new–I am overwhelmed by how many treasures are contained within their pages. I rarely go to them with the intention of perusing a particular article. Rather, as I flip through their pages I find information and inspiration on a wide range of topics that I didn’t necessarily set out to find. But now I wonder what will happen as everyone starts using a web-based search engine to find articles in these journals rather than subscribing in hard copy? What will happen to the longevity of X2 as it transitions to an internet format? Will women, generations from now, still be accessing its pages?

Let me assure you that I am all for technology. I like being able to search Dialogue’s back issues from the UofU portal, and I am quite happy to download Sunstone sessions to my mp3 player. But I still wonder if the transition from paper to a web format will be a death knell to the ExponentII? I suspect that it will stifle the serendipity of thumbing through a hard copy of the magazine and certainly it will be more difficult to lend your copy to a sister that you visit teach, or to pass on to your daughters. Moreover, as more of these publications archive articles in a digital format, I suspect they will have fewer subscribers and that many people will just “wait for the DVD to be released” rather than read the print editions.

What do you think? Have you bought the CD-Rom for Dialogue or read online Sunstone articles? Do you prefer this to hard copies? Am I a Luddite for continuing to value the dusty, sometimes crumbling, pages of the original journals?

Jana

Jana is university administrator and History professor. Her soloblog is http://janaremy.com/pilgrimsteps/

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  1. Kaimi says:

    Good questions, Jana. I too mourn the loss of print-X2. There is something valuable and irreplaceable about printed material.

    There’s a great article by James Fallows in this month’s Atlantic Monthly on the ephemeral nature of computerized archives. He notes, “with most things on paper, unless you throw them away or actively destroy them, they’re likely to stay around. It’s just the reverse, of course, with digital data. Unless you go out of your way to renew and preserve it, information on a computer will disappear fairly quickly.”

    I enjoy the benefits of technical advances — searcheable articles, books and diaries and articles on CD Rom, and so forth. But something is definitely lost as the world becomes more and more paperless.

  2. Melinda says:

    I’m a Luddite too. If I really want to keep something, I print it out or buy the book. Then I can write on it, highlight it, lend it out, and eventually file it. I like flipping back through things I’ve found interesting enough to keep over the years. Looking at stuff sparks memories. If everything is digital, then I’d have to reverse the process and have the memory before I could look back through it.

    My husband thinks I’m a Luddite for printing out pictures and sticking them in a scrapbook when we’ve got a perfectly good photo gallery online. But in 20 years, we’re more likely to pull my scrapbook off the shelf than spontaneously start browsing through 20-year-old digital archives, if they even last that long. Same principle.

  3. paula says:

    I first found out about Exponent II when I came upon a copy of it lying on a table in the Honors Lounge of the old USU library. It was such an exciting find– and gave me a place to feel at home in the church for a long, long time. (Along with Sunstone, and Dialogue.) Now the library, the lounge and the print edition of Ex. II are gone. Man, am I getting old!

  4. Stephen says:

    I read text at over a thousand words a minute, computer text I read much slower. I find it easier to highlight, mark, footnote and annotate typeset text.

    I cherish books and print.

  5. Dora says:

    I don’t know that I’d resort to physical violence, but I will join in voicing my sorrow for the passing era. This is also a good reminder to back up entries from this and my personal blog.

    I love paper goods. Fine stationary. Origami. Crinkled paper. Funny cards. Glossy magazines. Hard cover books. My Franklin planner. Even as tech-hungry as I am, I don’t know that I could ever transition to a PDA. Certainly I like to keep a pen handy when I read so that I can underline or comment on meaningful passages.

    And even as much as I love getting emails, there’s just something infinitely more personal about getting a handwritten card or letter …

  6. Idahospud says:

    I’m a fairly new subscriber, and I’m mourning, as well. Despite digital cameras, email, Google, and all the other great tech stuff that I love using, I still prefer glossy printed photos, letters from the mailbox in the sender’s own hand, and digging through stacks of notes and marginalia I’ve collected over the years. I understand the savings in time and labor (and the environment) in a switch of this kind, but there is an irretrievable loss, as well.

  7. Mabel Maybe says:

    Why not offer Ex2 through some on-demand publishing service like Lulu (lulu.com) Then anyone who wants her issue in print can buy it for herself.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think the only way it will survive at all is if it is in print. All other publications I know of that went totally digital have eventually died.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    I know the X2 board agonized over this decision, and ultimately, it came down to money. We just couldn’t get enough subscribers to pay the printer for printing the paper. And, there weren’t any other corners to cut. X2 has always been run by volunteers.

    I was one of the board members who really pushed to go online. I felt like it we didn’t go online, X2 might have ceased to exist.

    Still, it’s very sad…I like to think that our online presence has increased X2’s overall exposure, but you’re right Jana, those yellowed stacks of past X2 issues opened a whole new world for a lot of us. Will others still get to read them?

    P.S. There will also be an article in the Salt Lake Tribune soon about the transition of X2 from print to online.

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