Print vs. Pixels

This was the gist of an article in the New York Times this morning titled ”

I myself am the lone holdout in my family. While modernity has come to my husband and son in the form of the Amazon Kindle, I continue to make do with the technology developed by Johannes Gutenberg, carting my crochet books with me wherever our travels take us.

So, tonight, when I found myself in a situation where I had to sit quietly for approximately 45 minutes and could not crochet, I decided to test whether print was hopelessly passé or still had something to offer.

After three-quarters of an hour of uninterrupted reading, my conclusion was this: for me, print definitely offers something I don’t get from electronic media.

I had brought with me a print copy of the Herrschners catalog which had arrived in my mailbox several days earlier. Unlike the computer I am using to write this blog entry, the Herrschners catalog has one purpose, and one purpose only: to sell me more craft related items, particularly more yarn, more crochet or knitting books, and the requisite tools for either craft. The catalog does not have any way for me to email a friend, check my facebook account, and I cannot signal my approval of an item by hitting an electronic like or agree button.

So with only the catalog for amusement, I sat and read, and in the course of that reading, I learned things I could have learned elsewhere, but clearly have not.

One of the more noteworthy things I learned was that someone named Susan Stevens was the 2010 Herrschners Afghan Contest Grand Champion. Here is a photo of her prize winning piece:

crochet afghan, crochetbug, crochet flowers, crochet squares, textured crochet flowers, textured crochet square
Susan A. Stevens 2010 Herrschers Afghan Contest Grand Champion

While the palette is not one I would choose, the design incorporates many of the aspects of crochet that I love best with textural and sculptural elements and interesting joining techniques, and the end result is a lovely piece of work that I would have missed had I been searching rather than meandering.

Another thing I learned is that Herrschners Varsity Yarn is a line of worsted weight acrylic yarn, the colors of which are designed to work for making team-related crochet and knit regalia. In my adopted state of North Carolina, college basketball is taken very seriously, and this yarn line offers colors that will work for all three teams in the Triangle region (Duke University, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), as well as colors that will work for schools as far to the east as East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

My experience reading the catalog differs from my experience exploring the website in that when I read the catalog, I am trying to take everything in, while when I look at the website, I am generally trying to find a specific thing and am constantly trying to screen out information so that I can stay focused on my search.

I can’t speak to what happens in the brain of another, but when I use electronic media, I do not do experience same kind of intellectual meandering I do when I read, and there seems, at least on the surface, to be fewer opportunities for certain kinds of serendipity.

So, I don’t know how long print catalogs will continue to exist, but I will make a point of enjoying them more while they are still here.