(This post is a response to this Cyprus Blog Network Together!)
Eight years ago or so I had a major argument with my wife about the future of paper. I was an extremely excited Computer Science student back than, and my visions were very polarized. I saw only black and white. And when I looked at printed media and digital media I saw them as mutually exclusive. Of course, I was on the side of digital media. One of my most far taken statements was that all paper will disappear in the nearest future. And by nearest I meant next 10-15 years.
Shocking, isn’t it?
Well, at that time I was rarely seen far away from a computer. Real world meant little to me. And I didn’t have any understanding of office work outside of IT industry. I still don’t, by the way.
Needless to say, my wife was laughing at me. She still does, by the way.
But all these years weren’t in vein. I looked around, I talked to people, I learned. And here is what I came to realize: I was wrong. Paper isn’t going anywhere. At least not in the near future. And by near future I mean 20-30 years.
There are, of course, applications of paper that are being and will be migrated to digital media. Storage of vast amounts of data, with indexing and searching comes to mind (databases). Billing and invoicing (accounting). Reporting (management). Lots of communications (emails, blogs, forums, chats).
And there are also other applications of paper which paper suits perfectly well. Many people prefer paper books to any digital format. Quick note taking and sketching works best of all on paper. Photography is yet another area – no matter how good the image looks in digital, some people would still prefer it printed out, framed, and hanged in the living room (yes, I know about digital photo frames).
Coming back to my statement, as I said, I was wrong. I should have phrased it differently. Paper won’t disappear. And digital media will continue to evolve and improve too. But the two will co-exist for a long time. And they will be helping each other to improve too. Many applications have already been tried with both paper and digital – some were converted instantly, others remained and secured their positions. There is some healthy competition, but there is enough partnership for the whole thing to move into the right direction.
So, I was wrong. And I’m glad I was.