Thursday, July 23, 2009



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eric Jennings says:

"If you haven’t come across the article “Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why paper is eternal” by William Powers I suggest you download it and read it. Although I haven’t yet finished reading it (it’s 75 pages long), I think that Powers’ article accurately describes many of the reasons why you can’t get rid of paper entirely as a medium to convey information. Just read what he has to say here in the introduction:

“In short, paper is an increasingly subordinate medium. Like a brain-dead patient on life support, it lives because other technologies allow it to live. The only question, it seems, is when we will put paper out of its misery. The practical advantages of digital technology, including lower costs, wider reach, instant delivery and fewer environmental consequences, are inarguable…Oh, yes, paper’s days are most certainly numbered.”

“Or are they?…There are cognitive, cultural and social dimensions to the human-paper dynamic that come into play every time any kind of paper, from a tiny Post-it note to a groaning Sunday newspaper, is used to convey, retrieve or store information. Paper does these jobs in a way that pleases us, which is why, for centuries, we have liked having it around. It’s also why we will never give it up as a medium, not completely. For some of the roles paper currently fulfills in our media lives, there is no better alternative currently available. And the most promising candidates are technologies that are striving to be more, not less, like paper. Indeed, the pertinent question may be not whether the old medium will survive, but whether the new ones will ever escape paper’s enormous shadow.”

The Amazon Kindle, which I referenced just this past week, was one step forward to that “paperless world.” According to the Newsweek headline, Books aren’t dead. (They’re just going digital.) Five centuries after Gutenberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is betting that the future of reading [their emphasis] is just a click away. But, as I have seen so far in this article, Powers doesn’t believe that the future of reading is going digital any time soon. Heck, as he points out with the advertising agency Chiat/Day who tried to go completely paperless, the attempt leads people to do some pretty funny things. If you don’t believe me, read pages 19 & 20 to find out about some of them. As a teaser, I’ll just say the funny business involves a Radio Flyer Wagon and the trunk of a car.

I really do think that there is something tangible in paper that you just can’t get from reading on a screen. I think that so far Powers is articulating that something that I just can’t put my finger on. I hope you read it too and if you have any comments you’d like to share, please do."