A Short History of Paper
True innovation is irreplaceable. Innovation makes our life easier – it changes our worlds. Here are five refreshers about a well-known world changer, paper:
1. China was the first country to make paper.
2. People started writing on paper because it was lighter than bamboo and cheaper than silk.
3. Paper was initially made from pulped cotton.
4. Today, paper is increasingly made out of paper itself.
5. People believed that computers would usher in paperless offices in the late 19th century.
It’s interesting that people thought the days of paper were numbered in the 19th century already. Today we are hearing the same discussion again and again. Now it’s e-readers and other digital devices that might replace paper and what’s made of paper – namely books.
Those who know me know where I stand in the print vs. digital/tech debate. I love books – always have. I love looking at them, reading them, and treasuring them; can’t resist them (my new hero is Craig Russell’s Lennox – in 1950s Glasgow). This is not an experience I can recreate with an e-reader. For me it’s not just books. I prefer writing things down. Communicating with pen and paper is so much more personal than sending an email. It tickles people’s ribs that I reply to emails with a scanned pdf with handwritten notes on it. And apart from my core iPhone utilities, my most sophisticated use of tech is my trusty Montblanc pen, mighty and deadly as it is!
As this BBC article points out, old technologies have a habit of enduring. After all we still use pencils and candles and the world still produces more bicycles than cars. I am confident the same will be the case for paper and for books. There’s nothing like the textual, sensual experience of smelling, holding and feeling a book. Try it.