My colleague Jim Lyons posted this entry on his blog regarding the current
and future role of paper.
For the last 10-15 years there have been dire predictions on the future of
paper. And believe it our not, people are printing less in many areas as the
quality and number of documents online continue to increase. However at the same
time, the number of office and home pages printed continues to grow. How do I
know this? I am in the business and part of my job is predicting the number of
pages that will be printed in the future.
Why are printed pages growing you might ask? I won't bore you with all of the
techno jargon and bloody details of it all. I believe there are three main
- First, there are many documents that are now printed on home and office
printers re-purposed from other printing sources. For example, those photos you
use to print in your local drug store are just as likely to be printed on your
home printer. Small businesses are printing marketing collateral like brochures, data sheets,
flyers, etc. on their ink-jet or laser printer that were once only the
domain of expensive commercial, off-set printers (and the desktop printer
quality is terrific!).
- The second major factor is that the explosion of information - blogs, web
pages, digital content, etc. has created a tremendous growth in the amount of
pages available to be printed. So even if you print less of each type of
traditional document - letters, spreadsheets, etc. you might find yourself
printing more web pages, blogs, CD/DVD labels, and online articles.
- Finally, the quality of online viewing is not at the level of quality of
printed documents. Ever try to read a book online? Was it an enjoyable
experience? Well there are some alternatives. Amazon has introduced their Kindle "reading device". Other vendors and some of the big
Fortune 100 labs (like Xerox Parc) have worked on this issue from time to time.
The simple fact is that printed output is far easier to read than displays.
Perhaps some day there will be alternatives that can put paper to the