Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sharpie's Mad Science Experiment

Apropos of nothing except my recent obsession with pencils....

Sharpie just released an interesting chimera of a writing instrument: the Sharpie Liquid Pencil. In theory, it writes like a pen, erases like a pencil, but after a day or so, becomes permanent and non-erasable. Permanent like a Sharpie, they say, which makes me wonder. In my experience, Sharpie writing changes color, fades, or otherwise acts in less than permanent ways after a few years (or months, if exposed in any way.

It's an interesting concept, and one that I expect will set a trend, but I'm skeptical. And I'm not sure I see the point. As a commenter on one of the blog posts I skimmed on the subject said,
You know what else is permanent, like a Sharpie, but still erasable? A pencil. Just don't erase it.
Good point. ;-)

I go through phases when I worry about the longevity of my writing, even though it's not of much consequence, and most of it isn't anything I want anyone to read but me. I've had some bad experience with certain fountain pen inks utterly vanishing after a few years: cheap blue ink on cheap paper. At the time I was young and foolish and had no idea inks could just disappear like that without a trace in less than decades. Now I'm older and wiser and a little paranoid. At one point I was worried about using pencil in notebooks I wanted to keep around for awhile, just because it's erasable. But I got to thinking...*unless* it's erased, pencil is more permanent than pretty much anything, and the chances of my notebooks experiencing heat or humidity are a lot higher than the chances of a stranger armed with a Pink Pearl breaking in while I'm out and going to town on my old journals. I'm probably safe to use pencil.

Getting back on subject, I'm not sure what target audience these Sharpie things are really best suited for. I like pencils, I like pens...but both in one doesn't necessarily sound like the best of both worlds to me. That isn't to say I wouldn't try one if someone at work shows up with one or something...or I may buy one just because I'm curious.

Getting back off subject, here's a link to another random blog I stumbled across in my meanderings:
Notebook stories

Makes me feel like this whole notebook accumulation thing is normal and even applaudable. I like that in a website. A fun time-waster, for sure.

Also been hanging out here and here.


mpclemens said...

Color me cynical, but I betcha the refills for this thing are going to be crazy expensive. And you've hit it exactly: pencils are plenty permanent, as long as you don't erase them. I thought this Sharpie was cool at first, but now I'm starting to see it as a solution in search of a problem.

And I take umbrage with their description of it writing "as smooth as a pen." Pen = ballpoint or gel in the public mind. I was taking notes last night with a fountain pen on a Rhodia pad (of course) and I suddenly realized that it made no sound. At all. It was practically frictionless. THAT is the kind of smoothness I measure against.

Little Flower Petals said...

There's a telling part in the Engadget video when he's showing how it erases and when it doesn't erase cleanly, he says it's because it indents the paper a bit because you have to press down "like a pen." Not in my world!

James Watterson said...

I think I would rather a pencil as well but for five bucks might be worth a try. Who ever gets their paws on one first should do a little review.

Joe V said...

Sharpie ink isn't really "permanent," especially in the presence of 90% isopropyl alcohol, with which it wipes right off.

I like the idea of pencil being permanent, its principal component being graphite (i.e. carbon.) If one could find Mylar (polyester) sheets with the one side frosted (think drafting Mylar film,) combined with pencil, it could last to the next millenium, since polyester has an archival length of something like 500 years (or so I'm told.)

Not that anyone would want to read my crap in 500 years.

Strikethru said...

This liqui-pencil has the writing implement-o-sphere all abuzz. Thing is, nothing is as cool as a wood-case pencil. (rattles cane in outrage at newfangled pencil technology)

Little Flower Petals said...

Follow-up: Office Supply Geek has an excellent in-depth review of these things *here*.

Pencil Revolution said...

You're quoted! :-)