pat walters

freelance journalist in memphis

paper and search

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Finally digging into this paper-will-live-forever piece.

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. As the Internet journalist Mickey Kaus put it last year, “Why would you continue transmitting information on this incredibly expensive medium that kills trees?” The question was rhetorical, reflecting a point of view so obviously sensible the only appropriate response is a nod. Oh, yes, paper’s days are most certainly numbered.

From what I can tell, the author spends the 50 pages that follow this passage refuting it. I can’t help but point out one other advantage of the digital medium, perhaps the biggest one … SEARCH. Words printed in newspapers, magazines and books are stuck there forever, static, locked away from those of us who might someday want to look back at them, study them and link to them.

Can’t wait to find out why paper will endure. (Especially because I just signed on to spend the next few years learning how to write books.) I should add that I’m reading the piece on the computer screen.

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Written by patwalters

August 23, 2007 at 5:27 pm

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