<<< GO BACK
Post it notes. Yes,
you read correctly, that’s what it says. When I was charged with the task of
writing about the supposed “delights” of little yellow pieces of paper, you
could probably understand why I was initially finding it hard to really get
that enthusiastic. But the political and cultural slant that this magazine
takes makes it necessary to persevere with a number of topics, and so I
shall have a go at this one. Although, having now researched into the topic,
it is interesting to note that the history of yellow sticky paper is, well,
interesting, so keep reading. Here is the process; I shall explain, and you
The post-it note has come a long way since its humble beginnings and has now
firmly instilled itself as a key piece of office stationary that no self
respecting office nobody could do without.
The Happy History of the Post-It Note
The Post-It note was enigmatically, even inexplicably invented when Vicar
Art Fry applied a new type of adhesive glue developed by 3M employee Dr
Spencer Silver to a piece of paper to create a bookmark for his hymn book.
Accordingly, Dr Spencer and Mr Fry gave birth to the first ever post-it
note. The happy couple developed the idea in the 1970s. The origins of its
yellow colour are not commonly known, though it could be speculated that it
may be due to the lack of yellow biros
at the time (also true of the present day), which would have been rendered
camouflaged and hence confusing the recipient.
A quick look for “post-it notes” on Internet search site Google reveals a
bafflingly implausible 1.36 million matches. The search also reveals that
there are a lot of mad people in the world, but that’s not a point which
will be looked at here. My search initially descended on a site which
referenced post it notes as tools involved in neo Nazi fascist hostage
taking. A bit far fetched, I moved hastily on.
Post-It Note 2006 – Preventing a Communications Breakdown since 1970
It is possible that the rise of the post-it note was due to an inherent need
to protect society from the much vaunted breakdown in communications
highlighted by Led Zeppelin in the song of the same name. Conjecturally,
there is little doubt that to this day, the post-it note has been integral
in ensuring the continuity of such communications, manifestly in the office
environment, in spite of the physical absence of the communicator and
recipient. It enjoyed a strong and well deserved reputation in its early
years, touted at the time as “the new telephone,” albeit one which only
allows single direction communications.
Today, the post-it has developed new popular uses such as serving as a flip
book for crude animations for bored office temps, as well as being a good
way of establishing one’s territory and possessions that are theirs.
The Future: Flies of the world unite! Post-It Notes for the 21st Century
Apparently, spider legs may hold the key to the future of post it notes as
they have sticky properties which are more advanced than the current system
of stickiness. Recent pioneering research has led to the discovery of
van der Waals force. Elaborate stuff
indeed, but here is a question: do we really need stickier post it notes?
Are they not already sticky enough?
The research carried out in Bremen, Germany, advocates the potential
‘exciting’ possibility that the technology will allow post it notes to stick
“even if they got wet or greasy”. There are intriguing and interesting
ramifications of this I’m sure (though I cannot think of any off hand).
Leaving these technical achievements aside for a minute and questions arise
relating to the ethics of the use of such spiders in experimentation of this
kind. Apart from the possibly cruel
spider-experimentation which must have occurred to make this
discovery in the first place, the fact remains that stickiness is crucial to
the well being of spiders, but would serve as being a mere office
convenience to us at best, unless you happen to work in gale force winds and
have a pressing need to remind yourself of some guy’s phone number. And it’s
raining in your office. Are we really going to deprive a spider of its
ability to stand on the ceiling in order to make more long lasting smudges
on people’s desks? Would there be any real winner in either of these two
scenarios? Only the flies, I would suggest.
It would be easy to be cynical about this. Past memories of post-it
note-related sticky fingers which become increasingly clammy throughout the
day rest uneasily in the memory. An attempt to remove the wretched stuff
from fingers often results in bits of brown or black gristle conjugating
together on your tips. Notes stuck to people’s desks seemingly innocently by
fellow work colleagues or friends become gluey hotspots for days once
removed by the hapless recipient, serving as a constant reminder not only of
what may have been written on it, but also of the delivery method. I would
term this the post-it note ‘fall out zone’,
which must be avoided until the natural properties of the stickiness concede
to the natural course of time.
All this research into improving the technology in post-it notes is sure to
bolster prices too, though, conversely, I must admit that we cannot sit in
the era of the dark ages for any longer than may be necessary. If this is
the digital age, and if the post it note is to hold up against Sky TV and
mobile phone games like “Snake”, then maybe
spider research costs may be a necessary price to pay.
Just don’t ask the spider whose job it is to add the sticky to the notes his