• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Paper trail

Well, good luck with that:

Remember paper?

Memos to sign. Maps to fold. Letters to write. Calendars to flip.

Wistful paper executives remember. They’ve watched e-mail, annotatable PDFs, digital calendars and paperless billing diminish more than a third of the copy- and writing-paper business in recent years, spurring mill closures and eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

But now paper and packaging — still a $132 billion industry but absorbing a 5 percent loss in office- and writing-paper revenue each year — is fighting back.

As an authentic ink-stained wretch, I'm a good example of why this effort is futile. If someone whose career has depended on paper can get sucked into the digital world, anyone can. And I'm further in with each passing week, using less and less paper along the way. I haven't printed anything off in so long that I've had the same ink-cartridges for two years, and I can't remember the last time I bought printer paper.

The first think that gets you is of course the ease, speed, versatility and flexibility of the digital world, but over time you also learn to appreciate the diminution of clutter -- the books piled in corners because there is no more shelf space, the stacks of newspapers and magazines you have to get rid of, the bill you didn't pay because it was under a mess of junk mail.

Paper will always be around, and there are still some things I can't give up, like the absolutely essential Post-It notes, the pen and small notebook for jotting down ideas, the birthday card in the mail that means so much more than a digital greeting. But the gradual use of less and less paper is just a fact we have to live with.