I was a moleskine guy. Starting in my senior year of college, I carried around a pocket moleskine calendar almost everywhere I went. There I kept track of assignments, meetings, classes, and social engagements. If I lost the calendar I was at a loss as to what I was supposed to do. But back in January, I switched over to Google Calendar, in part because I couldn’t find a new physical calendar I was comfortable with (for some reason I was having difficulty finding a moleskine one this year).
There are things I like about Google Calendar. For instance, a red bar that tells me what time it is vis a vis the rest of my schedule, and the ability to have certain events recur (classes weekly, or birthdays annually) are rather nice. I also use the tasks feature, and it is convenient to be able to quickly and easily change due dates to various tasks.
At the same time, though, a pen-and-paper planner forced me to adhere to the schedule of my choosing. On Google Calendar, the tasks due on days past glare out from the completed tasks only until you move the due date to the future. Sure, it is a useful feature, but it is also symbolic of the impermanence of the internet. Similarly, I have been hesitant to delete the completed tasks because leaving them in place makes it possible for me to look back on the calendar and feel as though I actually accomplished something. One click of a button and, in an instant, the “proof” of weeks worth of work will disappear.
I will always prefer pen and paper to the computer, even if being a print columnist might actually net fewer readers than I currently have access to on this blog. But one of the things that troubles me the most about the internet is how easily changed things are–and Google Calendar is no exception. You may have a particular due date in the real world, but the digital calendar has the functionality to allow you to change the date you assign it without leaving a trace behind. You may have accomplished a great number of tasks, but, unless you leave a cluttered tasks tray behind (as I am currently doing), there is no record of it in your calendar. At least with a physical calendar you can have a sense of achievement as the pages get filled up and crossed out.
Then again, call me old fashioned, but I enjoy the feel of a good pen in my hand.