Is Paper Dead?

For the start of a new semester, here are two humorous commercials which suggest that paper is not going to be completely replaced by digital tablets – although it does seem that, for at least some purposes, digital is just as good if not better. What do you think?

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  • http://tunabay.com/ Keika

    Paper can’t die soon enough, for the men in the audience.

    These are funny ads. They zapped me with a brilliant idea for a subject ripe for an institutional government grant. Because it is almost as silly as those commercials. And here it is: Will future generation women’s bust sizes, unnaturally increase due to use of hand-held digital devices?

    • Susan Burns

      So that is where your mind automatically went? It is obvious what you use your device for.

      • http://tunabay.com/ Keika

        Well I figure if our out-of-control federal government could award a $700,000 federal grant to examine greenhouse gas
        emissions from burping dairy cows and $300,000 on helping scientists study how humans ride bicycles, and $3 million on studying shrimps running on a treadmill, I guess my grant proposal has a real shot. Can I submit this digitally, or do I have to mail a letter? ;-)

  • Judy Redman

    LOL! I particularly liked the first one. I find reading academic papers and books in electronic form difficult because even though I can annotate them, I find the process of going back to get an overview of my notes is not as quick or easy as flipping through hand-annotated paper where I often have a visual impression of where I should be looking. OTOH, keyword searches are obviously way easier. However, I think it will be a long time yet before paper replaces books in biblical studies – so much material is not available electronically and quite a bit of what is (older journal articles) has been scanned as images so it’s unsearchable.

  • VorJack

    As someone who’s an archivist and married to a records manager, let me just say: HA!

    They’ve been promising us a “paperless office” since the early seventies. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • VorJack

      I guess to more seriously answer your question, I worry about longevity. Under the right conditions, paper can last a century fairly reliably. Most electronic media has a life span of a decade. That’s not taking into account the problem of changing formats and programs that requires constant migration of your original data.

      As someone who has worked on a couple of international projects studying the retention of electronic documents, I have to say I don’t think we’re ready for a major switch to digital. My fear is that a lot of the stuff being “born digital” now isn’t being created with longevity in mind, and is likely to be lost.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Yes, I agree. While I am delighted in so many ways with the advent of ebooks and other digital resources, I too am worried about the permanence or otherwise of such things. There are files created with Locoscript when I was a student which I might not be able to access even if I tried at this point. With some things, for at least the time being, I suspect that there will be a concerted effort to maintain compatibility for older mp3s and pdfs. But eventually these formats will become obsolete, one presumes. My only hope is that the technology to convert digital materials to new current formats might keep apace with other developments.


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