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Reasons Why Paper Is An Emergent Technology

As Conficker/Downadup worms its way into PCs, and the OSX.iWork trojan haunts pirated copies of Apple's updated work suite, I'm reminded that the technology of paper continues to find new uses.
As Conficker/Downadup worms its way into PCs, and the OSX.iWork trojan haunts pirated copies of Apple's updated work suite, I'm reminded that the technology of paper continues to find new uses.Remember the hype around the "paperless office" a few years ago? Digital tools were supposed to replace all those folders, papers, and the sundry paperclips and staples that we used to rely on to organize our content. And they've done so, to a large degree; I no longer use a file cabinet, and I rarely ever create paper documents.

But technologies don't replace one another as much as redefine uses, right?

Radio entered a new renaissance after TV and the Internet, just as movie theaters found a different relevance after flicks were watchable on video. Showing up for a meeting in the flesh has a different impact now that VOIP and webinars are easier and faster.

Paper is no less an artifact of technology and, among its new utilities, the worms and trojans have given it one: it's the ultimate Internet security tool.

It seems that there's no better place in which to hide your secure passwords. Anything that's "locked" or otherwise encoded for protection on your computer is a glaring invitation to the hackers of the world to find it. Paper, on the other hand, is flexible, reasonably durable, and eminently stuff-away-able. It's quite literally off the table, or otherwise out of sight, to online evildoers.

So where are the little Moleskine passcode directories, or the paper that's specially-formulated to impede OCR (or whatever)? If we thought of paper as a brand of technology, and not just a media given, I wonder what other solutions -- and uses -- would emerge?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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