1. 24

  2. 6

    Why do we use paper in 2018? The children’s books from my childhood promised that stuff would be gone by the year 2000 :(

    1. 9

      At this point paper seems far more durable for the long term than digital.

      1. 4

        Anecdotally, I have heard this same sentiment from professional archivists as well. We’re pretty good at preserving paper over time.

        1. 2

          If there was something I really wanted to survive past my lifetime I would use a lazer printer, with acid-free paper, and have it laminated in plastic.

      2. 7

        Digital is just not as quick and flexible as paper.

        Think about it. You print something on paper, you want to highlight, just do it, you want to correct it, just write over it, you want to give someone your highlighted and corrected version, just photocopy/scan it.

        You want to write something down, grab a pen, pencil, heck even something that’s pointy enough to make an indent on the paper, and just do it. No need to press a button to turn it on. No need to keep a battery around. etc.

        Closest thing I’ve seen to paper using digital are these nice things called reMarkable, which are nowhere near affordable compared to paper (or a phone/laptop for that matter). Honestly I would consider buying one if they were 50$ lol

        1. 2

          I have a reMarkable. It seems to me that and iPad with an Apple Pencil would work better.

        2. 5

          Because not everyone does digital, not everyone does backups and the kids of today know more about how to take pics for Tinder than organize their data.

          I’m just happy the need for paper has diminished. That’s plenty and we’ll never lose the need altogether anyway.

          1. 4

            because industry has not provided a suitable alternative.

            still waiting on an e-ink device which can run linux and has an sd card slot, replaceable battery, and usb port. an e-ink laptop or even just a monitor would be good too, but alas.

            1. 4

              Because every suitable alternative is shackled and hobbled by DRM.

              1. 3

                You can read, for instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls, or a copy of a Chinese text written on mulberry paper from 2,300 years ago. Does anybody really think that our descendants will be reading information off of Zip drives or Memory Sticks in 50 years, let alone 500?

                Paper is an amazingly great technology and it’s uses have yet to be obsoleted by digital technologies.

                1. 2

                  Not just Zip drives and such. CD-R was supposed to be quite good, but I’ve lost my only copies of some nostalgic and personal data from only 20 years ago, because the fuck it is. Instead I do have drawings from when I was four.

                  Anyone know if the M-Disc is any good?

                  But even then, paper can’t really be replaced, though maybe digital copies could make decent backups if there is proper tech for it.

                  1. 1

                    In 50 years, every piece of data our civilisation has ever recorded will be available from some sort of distributed cloud, with enough redundancy that nothing is ever lost. If something requires an ancient operating system to convert to a new format, every imaginable machine will be available as virtual machines. These things are almost reality today already, so why wouldn’t they be true in 50 years?

                    Unless of course we destroy our whole civilisation before that.

                  2. 1

                    While paper uses within (Western) offices has probably declined a lot, and there’s less demand for newspapers, there’s still a lot of printing going on - whether on advertising flyers, billboards, decals for vehicles, photographic prints on metal or glass… and paper is used as a substrate a lot.

                    Wood pulp and paper products is still one of the staple export industries of Sweden and Finland.

                    1. 1

                      I have it on fairly good authority Nordic paper isn’t as good as bamboo paper, except that it’s here already.

                      Cardboard is the next big thing, that can’t be made from bamboo as well and people order more and more online.

                      1. 2

                        I believe you’re right, the little I’ve gleaned from my readings is that cardboard production (including the fancy kind used by electronics manufacturers in their packaging) is an big part of the industry here in Sweden now.

                  3. 4

                    There is a lot to love in this essay. I especially enjoyed reading the accounts of the Xerox teams brainstorming modifications to the jammed copiers. So much joy in problem solving! It reminded me of other great books about engineering cultures such as The Soul of the New Machine.