scrapbookingMy daughter spends much of her workday at the computer, but has no interest in blogging. Her hobby is scrapbooking, a hobby that now supports a $2.5 billion industry. A scrapbook is essentially a photo album on steroids, replete with souvenirs, commentary, and now, special thematic papers to make your collage a work of art. Special scissors are involved, as are many art media (paint, chalk, etc.). Stores catering to the hobby are springing up everywhere. People belong to scrapbooking circles (where you share your technical skills in scrapbooking, more than the actual scrapbooking content, with others), and are signing up for classes in scrapbooking and attending scrapbookng conferences. There is a Scrapbooking for Dummies book.

Last week, during a delightful dinner with fellow Canadian bloggers Seb Paquet and Gary Lawrence Murphy, we talked a little about this, and my dinner companions defined the hobby as Blogging + Permanence. Where a blog consists of nothing but bits and is totally etherial, a scrapbook is tangible. It has heft. It has presence.

It is also a social hobby, far less solitary than blogging. Mothers and daughters work on their scrapbooks together. And the subject matter is much more personal than most bloggers’ writings and photos (livejournal bloggers excepted). This is perhaps because the privacy of scrapbooks allows this intimacy — no fear of stalkers stumbling on your scrapbook the way they can on your blog. And scrapbookers are overwhelmingly female. They are also, photobloggers aside, of a more artistic bent than the vast majority of bloggers. The whole point of blogs was to make website composition simpler, so the writer could concentrate on the words. Scrapbooks are all about composition, and that composition is getting more sophisticated all the time. Some scrapbookers are even taking art classes so they can supplement their photos with portraits and other works of art. The hobby is even encroaching on genealogy, with much richer stories about, and embellished with artefacts of, one’s ancestors than one finds on the usual ‘bare’ family tree.

I keep thinking there should be more overlap between the two hobbies, but while there are lots of websites on how to scrapbook, there are very few blogs devoted to scrapbooking (and those that are seem to have mostly been abandoned, presumably so their writers can pursue their favoured hobby instead). There is certainly a ready opportunity to bring the hobbies together: Scanning the pages of a scrapbook into a blog would not be difficult, and would create a backup copy of the scrapbook that could be given to others or shared with those far away. And if the blogging tools weren’t so clumsy, they could allow us to print out our blogs and preserve them, with some of the related real-life scraps, the comments threads etc., in a hard copy archive that those (like my father) who say they find reading online too hard on the eyes could browse.

Why doesn’t this happen? Probably because the content is different, and the intended audience is different. The audience for your scrapbook (besides yourself) is the person sitting beside you, commenting on each page, sharing your art in a very tactile way. The audience for your blog (besides yourself) is the vast, mostly unknown horde of readers who find your ideas interesting, your compositions provocative or inspiring, your information useful, but who, for the most part, won’t miss what you’ve written next week when it disappears into the impenetrable blog archives. Blog posts are ephemeral, quick flashes, fireworks, left brain stuff. Scrapbook pages are memories, permanent vehicles to recall, richly, again and again, treasured memories. Drawing on the right side of the brain.

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  1. Rob Paterson says:

    Mark Twain made more money out of scrapbooks than from his novels – maybe they were the first weblogs and I think you have a point Dave

  2. Seb says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that scrapbook digitization does happen, for example on friends-only LiveJournals.

  3. Donna fay says:

    I see I’m nearly a year behind in my reply. That is because we have just started a blog for scrapbookers. And you are right there aren’t many out there so I’m very excited. We hope to make the site fun and informative.Donna

  4. shelleyrae says:

    Actually there are plenty of scrapbooking bloggers out there – they see it as an extension of scrapbooking and teh journaling that forms a large part of it. My favourite is an dyou can use that as a start point to find plenty more

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