Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paperless Movement Aided By Digital Paper

Where’s My Paper?

Whether you buy into the trend of purchasing a portable reader device or not, there is evidence all around us that paper is on its way out. Most newspapers, periodicals, magazines, and books come in a digital format to be used on computers, PDAs, cell phones, or e-Reader devices.

Why are These Options Popular?

Because we are always on the go. We want our reading materials to be as accessible as everything else we have grown accustomed to having around us. As we get more accustomed to having and owning technologically advanced devices, we are less content with the old way of looking at printed paper. These devices are particularly attractive to the people who want to own the lasted new appliances and who are not particularly worried about the huge price tag that accompanies them.

Are We Green Yet?

It is advertised how these devices are eco-friendly by reducing paper consumption, fuel for delivery, ink supplies, and emissions caused by the actual printing and delivery processes. There is significant potential for minimizing the impact of creating and delivering just the daily newspaper, let alone, all the other printed materials we use on a daily basis. But paper for the most part is recyclable.

Do these new devices have a long life so that they will not add to the landfills too soon?

What does it take to produce one of these devices in terms of energy and supplies?

Will the benefits outweigh the exorbitant costs?

Is this process green or greener than what we are currently doing?

These answers cannot be easily answered without trial and use. Time will tell.

Why the e-Reader Instead of Your Laptop?

There are multiple e-Readers available now. The Sony Reader, Amazon’s Kindle, iLiad by iRex, Aztak’s EZ reader, and Plastic Logic by Liquavista (See Embedded Video From CNN) are among the ones currently on the market. These devices are typically made in a simple format to make the learning curve flat.

Most of these examples are using the technology to make the screen look as much like paper as possible. To accomplish this, there is no back light on the screen so the user must provide light to read by just like they would when using a book. They typically do not require power to show the current page, only when the action to turn the page is engaged some of the power is used. Usually, these devices have long battery lives depending on the custom settings by the user. They are made for reading and not for pictures so color is not added. The grey, black, and white format keeps it simple and slows the energy usage as compared to a computer. Readers are smaller, typically the size of a book, and light weight. It does not store all of your personal information so if it is lost or stollen, the damage would just be loss and would be replaceable.

What About Using Your Computer?

Let’s look at the New York Times new online reader. It makes the user feel like they are reading the newspaper because it adjusts to the screen size of the user and has a layout similar to a newspaper. It uses the best aspects of the written format and combines it with the digital capabilities we have grown accustomed to and expect when we use our computers. It is predicted that most websites will adapt to this type of format which is user friendly.

I went to my local library's site ( and found hundreds of ebooks available for download for free. The download format is made for a computer. It did provide some assistance for other devices but typically they were not automatically compatible. The e-Readers are slightly different from each other. I really hate it when developers do not find a common format. A consistent format makes it better for everyone involved, but apparently the e-Readers do not share my view. Maybe the future will bring some uniformity.

I love this idea of making less waste but as I look around my office, I see lots of paper oriented items. Can we really let go of the ease that paper provides for an electronic device? I wouldn’t mind giving it a try but it would have to prove itself to me before I could completely let go of paper. I have cut down on paper usage considerably just by using email instead of memos, so I can see how this trend could evolve further. Currently, I keep my master copies in digital format but I use the paper copy to make notes and adjustments on. Perhaps in the future, I could learn new ways to utilize the digital aspects via media storage which would mean less clutter and a better filing system. NOW That Would Be GREAT!

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