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:
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