Living Analogue in a Digital World

We live in a digital age. I don’t really need to tell you that, you know. We write emails to our friends, not letters. We write notes on laptops, instead of notebooks, and I doubt there is any boss or professor out there that would let you submit a document that had been written by hand.

Pen and paper isn’t dead though. Every day I learn about some new pen and paper product, or I meet someone who still uses a written agenda. I’m not just talking about Bic pens and Post-Its either.

The pen, ink and notebook collection of one of my friends. Photo by Stephan Williams.

My curiosity and passion for analogue tools is something pretty new to me. One of my best friends, an actual “pen addict”, bought me my first fountain pen and ink last Christmas. At first I treated it like as a fun pen to use (it is a pink pen with purple ink, after all). After spending more time writing with it and doing some reading however, I became more interested in finding beautiful, neat and high quality pen and paper products. I also learned that is a passion shared by quite a few people.

I contacted Madison and Page, a “small but mighty” store filled with all kinds of pens, inks, desk accessories, etc. that has been part of downtown Calgary for 26 years (their anniversary is today, September 14th!). I wanted to know how popular this new found hobby of mine is amongst the eclectic mix of corporate and artistic culture we have in Calgary.

Owner Anna Niemczewski says that her clientele are a mix of collectors and enthusiasts, newcomers and those just browsing around, and there is something for everyone. She notes as of lately, fountain pens have become a hot item and has converted quite a few people to using them on a daily basis.

This doesn’t surprise me. I absolutely love using my fountain pen. I wish I could figure out the right words to describe the feeling of the pen writing across some fresh piece of paper, so for now, you might just have to take my word for it.

As someone who is glued to my smart phone, I don’t expect to go full analogue any time soon. Anna says it is that is very rare to find someone who uses one method exclusively, and I agree. I am still working on what kind of writing and organization tools work for me, but right now I am pretty even on my digital vs analogue tools. I use Google Calendar to schedule all my events and to make grocery lists and little notes while I am out and about. But on the flip side, I do most of my development notes and first drafts for any written pieces I work on all on pen and paper.

While I am still in the beginning stages of my pen addiction, I know the addiction is here to stay. It is a fun hobby that I encourage others to give a try. It doesn’t need to cost a ton of money, you just need to find what works for you. Giving yourself a little break from computer screens and smartphones cannot hurt either.

“The experience of the writing “trifecta” is addictive! A great pen, beautiful ink and fine paper cannot be replaced by a digital medium. It’s about the quality of experience and this is a luxurious one that is truly available to everyone” says Anna.

I put out a call for a little pen and paper discussion through my Twitter and Facebook got some great feedback from some my followers. I have posted a few pictures and highlights below.

Honourable mentions also go it to other rollerball pens: Uniball Jetstream and Vision, Pilot V5 Hi-Tech and Pentel RSVP BK90 Fine Blue.


What is in your pen and paper collection? Let me know via Twitter or email.

If you have any questions about analogue tools, I highly suggest seeing the lovely staff at Madison and Page, or visiting them online at their website, Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook.