This may betray my age, but I remember when the beginning of the widespread use of the personal computer supposedly heralded the advent of a paperless age, where every bit of information the world possessed would be safely stored on a computer somewhere, and paper would be a relic of the past.
Paper Storage Today
Thirty or so years later, the world shows no signs of phasing out the use of paper – in fact, we may be using more now than we ever have before. This may be due partly to the fact that we have all learned that computers don’t last forever, and partly to the fact that technology has evolved at a breakneck pace, making older data storage systems obsolete and forcing us all to update constantly or lose our data forever.
Paper is here to Stay:
The one thing that we seem to be able to rely on for many years without updating is paper. Legal documents, contracts, invoices, and many other things are still done on paper, and while digitally scanned copies may exist, the signed paper document is still the one deemed to be the original and therefore the most legally binding.
Paper in Business
Even though paper records take up an inconvenient amount of room, there is still a case to be made for storing paper copies of all business transactions. They are not vulnerable to computer failure, they cannot be remotely accessed and hacked, they do not need to be stored on a new medium every time technology leapfrogs ahead, and they will stay in their original condition for a very long time as long as they are kept in a cool, dry place.
Digital Rules for Photo’s
The one area where the world seems to have gone away from paper is photographs. An alarming number of children have grown up without a physical picture of themselves existing anywhere. All of their childhood memories are stored on computers somewhere, subject to the vagaries of technological change and the very real danger of data loss. Perhaps that is the one place where we need to return to the use of paper, to ensure that all of those memories are not lost.