Will Computers Replace Paper?
We're reading newspapers online and keeping track of appointments in our Blackberries. The written letter is long gone, and now we're receiving more unwanted email than we ever did snail mail. My bills are paid automatically online, and I turn in much of my university work digitally.
So is it happening? Are computers replacing our need for paper?
I hope not.
Of course, things will naturally progress as technology becomes more developed, simpler to use, and cheaper so that everyone can buy it. When PDA (Personal Digital Assistant, for those of you who magically missed it) first came out, I remember a lot of people (especially adults) saying, "I'd rather just use a pen and my datebook." But as the technology got smaller and therefore easier to carry, simpler and therefore less intimidating to use, and cheaper and therefore more available, everyone's mind seemed to change.
Creationism doesn't really apply here; the iPod didn't materialize out of the air the first time someone said, "Hey, I'd like to bring my music with me!"
Will It Continue?
Cell phones used to be exclusively for high-paid businessmen, but now everyone and their dog has one. The same thing happens with pretty much every technology that comes out: people are skeptical but then warm up to it as its overwhelming convenience seems to take over.
eBooks have been around for a while, but they never seemed to catch on. Many people insisted it was because they wanted to be able to hold their books like a book and couldn't do so if they were reading off a computer screen.
So now Amazon has come out with the Kindle, which wirelessly receives newspapers, books, and magazine subscriptions, and other companies have been following suit.
Right now, I feel like most people are skeptical of this technology, but as usual it seems like that's just because it's new. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the Kindle; in fact, it will make traveling with reading material much simpler.
And skepticism is where all of this usually starts, but eventually these technologies are everywhere. This looks like it might follow the same path.
So are books doomed? Will we be receiving magazines via wireless internet and lining birdcages with fodder other than old newspapers?
The Future of Books...
Sure, saving paper will save some trees, and it'll save a lot of trees if we all switch to the Kindle and devices like it. I'm willing to bet, though, that the energy we'd all consume using and charging those devices would not be too much better for the environment.
I think there is great value in physical books, even beyond whatever words they may contain. I remember being a kid and opening my parents' huge unabridged dictionary for the first time, just to look. Even though it might be easier to look definitions up on the internet, the smell of that old book and its weight on the stand are worth having around.
I love buying a new book or going into the library with a list of books for school. I love slowly growing my book collection as I get older. I even just love being in bookstores. I honestly cannot stand the thought of these things eventually being gone from my world because of technology.
I hope I'm not alone.
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