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A Paperless World: Fantasy or Reality?

Will the invasion of the internet and online media finally outcast paper from planet earth? Will children in some distant future be shown online pictures of what paper used to look like? Even if this reality takes its own tedious course down the time line, there are some huge hurdles to cross and obstructions to beat before this can happen. The first paper-based media that came under fire are newspapers.

Since, the advent of TV, newspapers lost a bit of their foothold as people turned to their TV’s for coverage of news. The latest political stunts, the gory crimes and the latest community events were all portrayed live and ‘happening’.

However,  the newspaper made a comeback. TV reporting has a tendency to be repetitive while newspapers present well-researched comprehensive coverage on topical issues- after all; you cannot hold a laptop with your morning tea.

The new intruder:  Internet

Web based news has its viewership though the page views are not great. Both TV and newspapers are much more popular than the internet as far as news goes. Only people who are travelling or at work like to check the latest news on the net. However, this has not stopped big newspapers from trying to gain visibility on online media. Corporate visionaries have already foreseen that paper will go slowly out of style – but it is first important to understand if a paperless reality is feasible at all.

Ironic situation

The fact that computer printers and photocopiers still have a huge market disproves this idea. Both photocopying and printing are fully paper based, and if you see the amount of photocopying and printing that goes on in government offices and corporate houses, you will wonder if they can ever function without  paper. Memos, copies of minutes of a meeting, huge ponderous company reports, company notices, etc.: All this make a seemingly permanent link to paper usage and indeed wastage.

The way forward

The introduction of a new concept is aims at breaking down mental barriers and skepticism. To convince people that they can do without paper is like what it must have been to prove that the earth is round. Government initiatives and laws, more consumer awareness of the wastage of the environment and insistence of companies on certain paperless procedures being implemented: All these steps will help. The common man would need to invest in a computer and an internet connection to be able to join the movement. Not everyone has that kind of money to afford it.

The flip side

The fact is that there a lot of people out there who love books. Schools, libraries and children- it’s impossible to imagine any of them without books; it even makes one baulk at the very idea. An alternative would be to have books (school books, study and story books) using the environment in a sustainable manner while doing away with rampant wastage of paper in the offices.




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