Not there yet
Best Argument: Not there yet
We have the hardware and software
While society may not be entirely paperless just yet, paper is under attack on multiple fronts and our collective desire to be paperless should eventually get us there. Everyday, we learn about new devices, software and online tools that encourage a paper-free existence.
Do we have the means available to eradicate world hunger? Yes. Will it happen this year or the next? I’d say no. Similarly, we have the hardware and software to greatly minimize or skip the use of paper. It'll take a concerted effort among us to adopt new behaviors that take advantage of these new technologies and make a real difference.
Future generations will look back in amazement by the paper production process and the waste it generates. Like burning fossil fuels for energy, cutting down trees to create books and documents will be frowned upon by society and the practice will fall by the wayside.
Tipping point is a long way off
My colleague, Chris Jablonski, did a great job today pointing out all of the ways that we're moving towards a paperless society, citing a variety of evidence for the reduction of paper in the enterprise and in society as a whole. At the same time, he failed to demonstrate that we had reached that critical point where digital could realistically overtake paper in the content wars.
Unfortunately, that tipping point, though portended by cheap devices like the Kindle fire, is a remarkably long way off. I'm as close to going paperless as society lets me be (try buying a house without paper), but as I explained in the debate, Chris and I, along with most of the readers on ZDNet, are hardly a representative sample. Outside the technorati, the iPad actually isn't as ubiquitous as it seems.
Nope, I'm afraid we are very far indeed from a paperless society.
Not there yet
Both Jablonski and Dawson made interesting points. Jablonski argued that we're closer to paperless than we think. Dawson said we're a long way from being paperless. Based on the debate I'd have to go with Dawson. However, Jablonski made a bevy of interesting points. I think it's fair to say that the pieces are in place to go paperless, but there are cultural hurdles ahead. When the tipping point to going completely paperless comes, the transition may happen very quickly. That day isn't here yet, so Dawson's side wins.
Doc's final thoughtsIN PARTNERSHIP WITH Ricoh
It seems this week the team of Jablonski and Dawson essentially agree – not so much on when print will fade away, but that it should. In the electronic era we live in, paper is a dinosaur, or should be. It is less efficient, potentially hard on the environment, and a symbol of the past.
Well, Doc has a slightly different perspective, which comes from my unusual upbringing and that water skiing accident at age eleven. When television came out, it didn’t replace radio. Paperback books didn’t replace hard-bound ones, and Starbucks didn’t replace Peet’s. So why should electronic communications necessarily replace printed ones? Sure, in many cases they will, and print will have to find its rightful niche. But as a communication vehicle it’s here to stay and will be for a long time. Paper is just different and one more choice in our myriad of communication methods. Why does everyone always act like it’s an either or situation? It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping. Doc says long live paper – it’s not for everything, but for some things it’s superior.