The End of Paper as a Medium for Recording and Communication?

For thousands of years, paper has been a popular medium of choice for communication. Books, newspapers and leaflets, to name a few, have all been ways of recording and disseminating information. However, since the rise of portable smart devices, the use of paper for communication has steadily declined, albeit offset by a rise in paper products to combat plastic usage.

Laptops, smartphones, tablets and e-readers have all contributed to the declining use of paper as a medium for communicating. Letters transported by postal services have been in decline since the prevalence of email and instant messaging. Books, although still popular, are slowly conceding ground to e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, while brochures and leaflets are being replaced by digital advertising.

The issue with using paper now is that it requires a lot of work in order to be useful. In today’s fast-moving world where information can be obsolete in seconds, in the time it takes to write up, print and distribute a newspaper, for example, the information on there could be outdated. With digital content available on apps and websites, these can be updated quickly and easily with minimal effort. Think back to the last time you received a leaflet or a letter – would you know where to find it? And even if you could, how long would it take? Instead, nowadays we can type in a keyword into our phone or laptop’s search bar and the message would be in front of us in seconds. This speed and simplicity suggests that the usage of paper for these purposes won’t be around for much longer. Even in developing countries, mobile phones are now so prevalent that it is even more convenient to distribute and accept bill payments digitally than using paper.

Paper will have its supporters for a long time to come though, it seems. Many older generations who are reluctant to switch over to digital products will certainly maintain demand for items in paper format. For example, books, despite the rising popularity of e-books and e-readers, will certainly maintain a strong base of users who prefer the feel of reading from paper and owning physical copies.

Records written on paper are slowly being digitised. Not only does this save space and make them much more manageable, but it also puts them at much less of a risk from degradation and risks such as fire and water damage. Take for example modern office buildings that in the past would keep paper records of those coming and going from inside the building as well as schedules of meeting room bookings. Nowadays, digital systems such as Pronestor’s conference room scheduling display, mean that the entire booking and scheduling process can be done digitally, without the need for any paper. The same can be said of booking hospital appointments, booking flight tickets and hotel stays. Paper is gradually being made obsolete, especially for such uses.

While paper will certainly be around for a while longer, the rapid rise of digital communication means it won’t be long until its prevalence in our day-to-day lives is minimal. Coupled with the environmental impact of using paper (not compared to plastic), it is only a matter of time before it becomes a thing of the past.

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