A few questions come to my mind. When taking notes, which do you prefer, writing on paper or typing on your smartphone?
Why do companies still print their documents? Why are papers still produced?
Let’s say we’re going to order some food in a restaurant. Many restaurants in Indonesia still print out their menu instead of inputting them into an application. Another case is when we buy stuff from a retail store. The cashier will give us a printed receipt whereas we have seen the total price on the payment screen. Then, the big question surfaces: “Why does paper still matter in this digital era?”
Many thoughts appear, stating that there are pros and cons to the use of paper, particularly at a time when everything can be done digitally.
The most concerning thing about using paper is deforestation. We know that paper is made of wood produced by trees. Currently, approximately 4.1 million hectares of forest vanish annually due to the rising need for paper products. Based on information from the Global Forest Resource Assessment, approximately 80,000 to 160,000 trees are felled daily across the globe, with a considerable portion of them being utilised within the paper production sector. Persistent deforestation has a notable effect on altering worldwide weather patterns.
In addition to deforestation, the paper manufacturing industry is a source of air pollution as well. In 2015, in the United States, paper-related activities were responsible for approximately 20 percent of air pollution. Furthermore, paper production also makes a substantial contribution to water pollution.
However, apart from the disadvantages of paper production, it is important to recognise that paper continues to serve a vital role in contemporary society. Furthermore, it’s crucial to delve into the reasons why paper retains its significance in the digital era.
- Paper offers immediate feedback, allowing individuals to quickly grasp an idea and promptly start working on it. When it comes to writing on paper, it only requires minimal effort. Moreover, many executives and staff members in a company depend on notebooks and notepads because they are portable, user-friendly, and do not require a battery. Remarkably, individuals who used laptops for note-taking often tended to copy information word for word, whereas those using paper notes actively engaged with the information, rephrasing it in their own words.
- When we receive information from paper as opposed to viewing the same content on a screen, our brains exhibit greater activity in regions linked to processing spatial and visual information. This implies that physical mediums such as paper when contrasted with digital notes, may feel more tangible to our brains due to their physical presence and visual attributes in the real world.
- In the business world, many employees utilise online calendars or smartphone apps to manage their appointments, while others find it more effective to use a portable paper calendar or a large calendar hanging on the wall for a prominent approach to time management. However, it’s worth noting that all of these methods serve as records that one might want to retain.
- When people engage in reading, 79 percent of them typically skim text on a screen instead of engaging in a deep reading process. If they are compelled to read, studies indicate that they do so at a 25 percent slower pace. This underscores the importance of making documents like employee policies, guidance, and training materials accessible for offline reading. When a worker needs to thoroughly grasp a specific nuance or detail, skimming through a webpage may cause them to overlook it.
- Reading from computer or gadget screens can be fatiguing for the eyes and tends to be around 25 percent slower compared to reading from paper. It’s no surprise that individuals often try to reduce the amount of text they read.
Indeed, digitalisation stands as a necessary aspect of modern life to facilitate efficiency and convenience in many sectors, but paper retains its relevance just as it always has, and it’s unlikely to disappear in the near future.