Killing trees and getting personal.

Every time I tweet about lov­ing print style sheets (or wish­ing a site even HAD print style sheets), I get the inevitable reply: “But think of the trees! Why do you need to print some­thing in 2010?!” Well, here’s my answer.

Right now, I am sit­ting with Smash­ing Mag­a­zine’s “Per­sua­sion Trig­gers in Web Design” print­ed in front of me. As soon as I click “pub­lish,” I’ll be turn­ing off my mon­i­tor (to hope­ful­ly stave off a migraine for a few blessed moments) and turn­ing to this 3-dimen­sion­al paper that I can touch. I will pick up my green high­lighter, uncap it, and set­tle in to read what I have been told is a mar­velous arti­cle, and I will high­light what I want to remem­ber. I may even write notes in the mar­gins.

I have lit­er­al­ly hun­dreds of pages of print­ed arti­cles — some are metic­u­lous­ly orga­nized into note­books and sub-cat­e­gories, and some are lay­ing in piles on my din­ing room table wait­ing to hole-punched and orga­nized in the same way. Many are high­light­ed or have notes writ­ten on them. Each and every one has shaped my think­ing about — and there­by how I prac­tice — design and devel­op­ment and copy­writ­ing.

Could I have just read the arti­cles online and not print­ed them? Cer­tain­ly. I prob­a­bly could have high­light­ed and com­ment­ed them away, too.

But, as I hint­ed at before, I get chron­ic migraines. One of my trig­gers is sit­ting in front of a com­put­er screen for 10+ hours a day, study­ing and tweak­ing the small­est pix­els. But I love learn­ing. And I don’t want to be tied to my migraine-induc­ing com­put­er screen in order to learn about web design.

On a deep­er lev­el, I am a tac­tile per­son. I like to feel the paper, I like to inter­act with it. I like to draw on it and imme­di­ate­ly draw con­nec­tions in my mind. I retain what I’ve read much bet­ter away from the screen when my inter­ac­tion with it is phys­i­cal and imme­di­ate. I feel far removed from my work on the com­put­er. I feel deeply con­nect­ed to what I actu­al­ly touch.

Maybe I do kill too many trees and I’m not green enough. But I’ve learned that I need to cater to my learn­ing style (and avoid migraines when­ev­er pos­si­ble). So, until how my brain works changes, I will con­tin­ue print­ing arti­cles and scrib­bling all over them. It’s ther­a­peu­tic, and gives me a deep con­nec­tion to what I’m read­ing.