Several days after the birth of our baby girl Harriet, I realised that I hadn’t bothered to put an announcement in the paper. This was shortly followed by the realisation that there was no point – her arrival had been SMS’d, telephoned, emailed, Flickr’d and Facebooked to pretty much everyone we think would care, so why bother putting it in print? It doesn’t seem that many years ago that you would typically have put this sort of thing in the paper, if only as a keepsake, so there’s been rapid change here.
I checked the newspapers for the last few days to see if anyone else had put in a birth notice for Harriet. Nope. Tellingly, I confirmed this by using the web search interfaces for both The Age and the Herald Sun. The online world really has replaced the printed world in this regard.
It was also clear that hardly anyone was putting their birth notices in the papers either. There are just a handful of such announcements, and their number is dwarfed by the volume of death notices, which have at least five times as many. Understandably the demographic that death notices are intended for is not as web-savvy as the demographic that puts in birth notices.
Another aspect to this is that not only is online the more “traditional” means of notification for today’s parents, but it’s significantly better than newspapers. You can’t tell people about your new kid without also providing pictures, based on the demand we received for photos when we were a bit slack about making them available. Newspapers have never supported large, colour prints of your baby, unless you were at least on the A-list. Or they were born on an auspicious day, such as new year’s day, or the day when the Federal Government commits to maternity leave. While online, you can provide almost limitness photos to sate even the thirst of the most eager relation.
But now the question – if a newspaper cutting isn’t available as a keepsake, for the child to look back on in years to come, what is the online equivalent?