At work we have long since moved into the world of online publishing, a more environmentally responsible and customer-responsive way to communicate, and while I am excited about all of the interactivity online publishing promises and about the ability to correct mistakes after publication, I still wax nostalgic for print publishing every now and then. One of the things I miss most is finishing something—working like a dog for weeks up to the deadline and then holding the finished product, the magazine issue, in my hands. “Hey, I worked hard and I did this, and it’s finished. I can move on now.”
Online publishing doesn’t have this satisfaction. I can’t hug the home page of a online publication to my chest. I can’t hold it in my hands, and say, “I did this and it’s finished”, because an online publication is not finished. Mistakes can be corrected. It’s not finished because readers can comment and rate, and those reader comments are as much a part of the publication as the original text (an archivist’s nightmare). And that is wonderful. And that is awful.
And that, I think, is why I have embraced knitting with such zest. I work really really hard, trying to get the details right. I have deadlines like finishing a sweater before my toddler daughter outgrows it, or Christmas or a birthday. I meet the deadline, and I have a finished object. Rarely perfect–I usually have signed it with my humanness in the form of a few mistakes here or there. But it is a finished object. I can hug it to my breast. I can hold it up and say, “Hey, I worked really hard, and I did this.”
So the brave new world of online publishing is exciting, people have access to information in unprecedented ways. Errors can be corrected. The reader becomes part of the the message. That is grand.
But I think I’ll keep knitting because a sense of accomplishment is a powerful thing.