Keeping Childhood Artifacts

My love for Evernote is well documented in these parts, but did you know I actually listen to the podcast? Such a geek. It's actually quite entertaining, the guys are funny, and I learn a lot about new uses and features for Evernote. (Word count for the Mac version, pleeeeeeeease?) I also feel like I get some insight into Robert's job, since he is a product manager for a software company and the guys talk a lot about the process of deciding what features to roll out and when. The last podcast I listened to featured an interview with writer Susan Orlean. (I highly recommend The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.) I was nodding along as she talked about Evernote as a tool for research and writing. She then started talking about Evernote as a storage solution for her kids' artwork---she takes pictures of stuff and stores it in notebooks so it's all accessible and organized.

She is totally right that the sheer volume of creative output is overwhelming. What's the opposite of a hoarder? That's what I am. Our house lacks the storage space, and I lack the inclination, to organize and store everything they do, but nor do I relish the idea of going through their creations and judging certain ones worthy of keeping. (I love everything they do!) So... this morning I spent some time taking pictures of their artwork over the last year and sorting them into Evernote notebooks. I pictured our kids, as they age and grow up, scrolling through dozens (hundreds?) of pictures and school assignments, marveling at their progress, laughing at the misspellings and the whimsical drawings.

But even as I went through this process, I realized that something is definitely lost in storing artwork this way. There is an energy that's present in physical artwork that doesn't translate to the screen. Real paintings and drawings have a three-dimensionality to them---when you hold a piece of kid artwork in your hand, you can feel the brushstrokes, you can practically see the fat little fingers grasping a marker.

I think, overall, the benefits outweigh the downsides. And there were some items that were just too precious to keep in an online system (or too complicated to photograph well) that I am storing in archive boxes. But on balance, I think this is the way to go for us. A good organizational system has to be fun and easy to use, and Evernote accomplishes that. (I admire people who scrapbook, but I don't enjoy it. I like the person who said, "I don't scrapbook, I pile chronologically.")

Parents, what do you do with kid artwork?