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Light On Light Through

You'll hear a little of this and lot of that on Light On Light Through - my reviews of great television series, my interviews with authors and creative media people and their interviews of me, my political commentary, thoughts about my favorite cars and food and space travel, discussions of my music, and a few of my readings from my science fiction stories. These are usually audio and a few are video.  In the first years, starting in 2006, I put up a new episode at least once a month.  More recently, it became more or less often than once a month, usually a lot less often.  But in the Fall of 2018, I began getting more in the mood to podcast, and you can expect new episodes now a little more frequently.  - Paul Levinson

The Durability of Paper

Aug 18, 2007

People have been complaining about the big stack of paper printouts they have received from AT&T for their iPhone service.   Some have been objecting almost as much to the paper delivery as to the bill, saying that if the iPhone were as a true harbinger of the future as its champions (including me) claim, its telephone carrier would have figured out a way to send the bill electronically. 

But I doubt that paper’s really the issue.  I've never seen anyone object to getting some paper cash in hand.

Paper, of course, has long been put forth as an early item to be replaced by the digital realm.  I remember lots of talk and writing back in the 1980s about the “paperless office?.  It didn’t happen.  

I’ll let Sierra Waters, heroine of my novel The Plot to Save Socrates, explain why.  Here’s what she’s thinking on the very first page of the novel:


...written on the only substance which could survive decades, maybe longer, without batteries, which required only the light of the sun to be read, or the moon on a good night, or a flickering flame when there was no moon.  Paper.  A marvelous invention.  Thin and durable...



And paper also has what I call “reliable locatability? - what’s written on one part of a piece of paper today will be in the same place tomorrow.

So, as much as I dislike bills, I actually prefer getting them on paper.

Meanwhile, if the history of phone and online service is any indication, iPhone AT&T service will sooner or later progress to very low, flat rates for huge amounts of data - which I doubt that anyone will be complaining about, whether on paper or screen.

See also The Secret Riches of the Panda


Chris Merriman
almost twelve years ago

A paperless office? In many environments, I agree it will never happen.
HOWEVER, computers have helped to reduce the tonnes of paper used in the past. At least in most countries... Sadly here in Kazakhstan, many government organizations still require all e-mails to be printed out for the boss to read.
Then when the work required is completed, multiple copies of the result have to be printed off, for multiple levels of bosses to sign off on.
So, the end of paper will hopefully not occur, especially when you look at the shelf life of domestic CD and DVD-/+Rs, but I do hope that un-necessary paperwork will continue to be eliminated - even when the paper is re-cycled stock, the recycling process requires energy to be used...