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January 11, 2013

When paper trumps pixels: On being invited to the VQR publisher's reception


As a rule my default setting is right here at home where I belong, riding shotgun alongside Gray Cat.

So last week when I received via U.S. mail the card pictured up top, I looked at it with a bit of interest, placed it on my desk to study for a day or two, then tossed it in the trash.

I mean, why would I go to the Colonnade Club on the West Lawn of the University of Virginia at 5 p.m. on a Thursday, guaranteeing I'd miss "Pardon The Interruption," my favorite TV show, which airs at 5:30 p.m.?

Crazy, right?

A day or two after the card arrived, I noticed an invitation on Facebook to the event from the formidable Jane Friedman, web editor of the VQR.

I put two and two together and figured she must've been behind my receiving the classy cardboard invitation.

Full disclosure: I know Jane Friedman.

I first bumped into her online last year, back when she was still in Cincinnati, and we went back and forth about this and that (she's a world-class expert on epublishing and related topics).

Then she happened to mention that she was moving to Charlottesville to become web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, which got me all excited since I figured I might actually get to meet her in person and talk with her and learn helpful stuff to make boj better and bigger.

Long story short: We met, and then we met up a second time, and then a third time, each encounter for me a breath of fresh air and serious mojo — she has a knack for making you feel more competent and capable and smarter than you really are.

Yeah, yeah, I know, plenty of upside for you joe, ha ha ha.


I fished the invitation out of the trash and put it back on my desk to look at over the upcoming days, thinking I just might go for the heck of it.

But here's the point of this post: If I had only received the online Facebook invite, there is ZERO chance I'd ever have gone.

It was only the concrete, tangible, minimalist invitation itself, that I could hold in my hand and look at and feel, that made me want to move my wetware self from my hearth and home to the great world outside last evening.

And I did go and it was fun, seeing and chatting with Jane and meeting a number of the good and the great in the VQR orbit.

Paper trumps pixels.

Now, you could argue that it's only because I'm a geezer that the physical invitation swayed me to attend, but I think that just the opposite is true: I'm betting that the younger the person, the more of an impression a physical, atom-based invitation will make.

You know my old motto, coined last century: BNA — bits not atoms.

But in this case, atoms carry more gravitas than bits.

As the world becomes increasingly transparent and virtual, the value and meaning of actual things that you can touch and feel and save and look at whenever you like will increase.

In the race for the exit door as far as dead tree media is concerned, opportunity will be overlooked by those who think it's a zero-sum, all-or-nothing, one or the other equation.

It's not. 

Two things can exist in a superposition of sorts, one in the real world and one in the ethereal mist of possibilities we call cyberspace.

After all, once your last breath escapes, you won't disappear from the universe even though your awareness might well vanish.

As long as you exist in the minds and memories of those who knew you, you're as alive to them as you ever were before you began your transit to stardust.

January 11, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink


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...began your transit to stardust.

...atoms carry more gravitas than bits

Posted by: joepeach | Jan 12, 2013 5:30:51 PM

I don't think that running attire is appropriate.

Do you still have one of those nice, embroidered, lab coats that you wore on grand rounds? That would help spiff up the running ensemble.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Jan 11, 2013 8:38:55 AM

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