Paperless predictions….do they cut it?

24 Mar

The rise of the kindle, e-reader and iPad, in partnership with the burgeoning blogging army, social media and online content adds serious weight to the argument for the long predicted forecast of ‘The Paperless Society’ becoming a reality. Gordon Brown has announced a suite of changes to increase efficiencies and reduce the need for printed output and, although his plans undoubtedly are more fiscal than ecological, does this pre-empt another attempt to reduce us all to a nation of screen tappers?

As I write my desk is piled high with paper, magazines, newspapers, bills, my diary, address book, business cards etc.  Yes it could be tidier but that’s not the point.  I don’t ‘need’ these things anymore, I have wifi and an iPhone, I can store all of my business and personal contacts in my digital address book.  I can read the paper and magazines online and I already pay my bills online, so why the hard copy?

I’m sure that there’s not many dinosaurs left still printing out their emails just to read them, but I do still print some- if I’m going to a meeting for example, it’s a useful reference point and much easier to pass around the room than a laptop.  Where I find a printed copy essential is if I’m proof-reading.  No matter how many times I look at the screen, there is ALWAYS something that only shows up in the printed copy.

On a personal note, I can’t imagine a society without print in the form of newspapers and books and yet the predictions are already out there saying that our children will NEVER read a newspaper.  Much as I’d LOVE an iPad, unless I’m forced by the monster that is technological advancement there’s no way I’m ready to eschew the sensation that is skin on ink on paper, but I wonder how long it will be before someone develops a kindle and markets is as “Just like the real thing”?

What do you think? Is the paperless society inevitable?Is it desirable? Do we have a choice?


6 Responses to “Paperless predictions….do they cut it?”

  1. Livi March 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    I will never, ever, ever convert to reading books on a kindle/iphone/laptop. I wont do it, I hate the idea of it and I hate the reality of it even more.
    When I’m reading a book I want to curl up with it rested on my knee, I want to use one hand to turn the pages, allowing that new book smell to fill my senses, while I use the other hand to stuff myself with chocolate. I want to be able to hold that book in my hands and to focus just on reading it, I want to absorb myself into the world of the characters. I do not want to be staring at a computer screen.

    I have no problems with paperless billing, I’ve never printed an email, but I draw the line at books (and newspapers). Some things should remain sacred.

    • peabee72 March 27, 2010 at 10:45 am #

      I agree Livi, there’s nothing like it….but with the rise in click per view and online subscriptions I’ve a horrible feeling we might end up in a minority 😦

  2. jfb57 March 25, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    I’m with Livi! Can’t read a novel without having the pages go through my fingers.

    I’m sort of in the middle like you. I read lots on line but print minutes/agendas etc for meetings. I like to go through them before-hand with my highlighter pen to get my thoughts in order. Strange, because the folk that send them are really proud to be ‘going paperless’!!

    • peabee72 March 27, 2010 at 10:49 am #

      LOL! I tend to read a lot online too, but I only really skim read…I find it much easier to concentrate on printed copy and enjoy the hand-eye-brain connection. I’m also a champion of the print industry, having worked in and around it for the last 12 years…i don’t want to see it contract any more than it already has!

  3. Mikey B March 25, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Wow, you pick’em don’t you!! Nothing like a BIG topic to kick off my Thursday morning.

    You asked – Is the paperless society inevitable? Is it desirable? Do we have a choice?

    Let’s see.

    Inevitable – yes but not completely. Legal and audit reasons will need paper trails for a while and bits of society will just hang on to it. Think the rise of credit cards and ATMs vs the decline of cheques. Still can’t get rid of cheques completely. And quite right too.

    Desireable – probably a generational thing. For my kids its just not a question that means anything. Even I, an old reactionary Luddite, have just spent a year out of work, doing consulting, job search and social media stuff without a printer. Phone, itouch, satnav, PC – simples!

    The ‘paperless society’ question usually looks at the technology changes not the consequential behavioural change. We often change our behaviours to accommodate new technology so it seems as though we can’t do without it. Hmmmm mobile phones – how did we ever live without them?!

    What we as a society have yet to acknowledge is the ‘archive question’. What impact does digital stoage have on the history of our time. I suspect in a couple of hundred years many will bemoan our loss of physical records.

    Do we have a choice? Of course we do. But it will cost us. All choices do.

    (h my god all that sounded a bit serious. Must go off and do something completely silly now.)

    • peabee72 March 27, 2010 at 10:52 am #

      Ha! A good kind of serious and all good stuff, the most pertinent point there is the archiving IMHO, we’ve already seen massive shifts in such a short time for how we archive. It doesn’t seem so very long ago that 4.5″ floppys were replaced by zip and jazz drives, then CDs and USBs and now online or server storage. I’ve got discs that I recently tried to use and found them corrupted…so that’s a whole bundle of data lost. Do we hear a call for ‘back to basics’?

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