Sunday, 26 July 2009
Governments are increasingly ramping up their efforts in reducing CO2 emissions and toxic waste and in the process slowly decrease our impact on nature and the ever so sensitive ozone layer. Recycling has throughout the recent 20 years been the simplest way of showing kind-heartedness towards earth and employing green living by granting every possible piece of material a second life through the process of recycling.
Paper is a pest. I reckon that 70% of the paper that makes it into our hands is insignificant waste such as receipt for a £1.35 bottle of water, monthly bank statements or dismal 5% store voucher handed out on the high street. It’s all rubbish -- literarily. The internet have partially reduced the number of visits we have to pay our local recycling station to get rid ourselves of papers waste that is good for nothing except ferociously fuelling fire if anything was to go wrong in the home. Store catalogues are losing their essence of existence as websites listing the full updated assortment are now a norm in the world of retailing and Google having unofficially emerged as the new yellow pages for search of products, locations and companies. The Jetsons’ prophecy is becoming true, we are moving to a paper-less society and subsequently sparing more trees from getting cut down. Now we just have to wait for the civil aviation association to grant everyone permission to fly alien saucers.
Amazon’s E-Book reader, Kindle, is very close to what the 1970s sci-fi community dreamt of – a thin piece of plastic pulling reading materials from a central data base. E-book readers are as revolutionary as MP3 players which exploded on to the market in 2002-2003. Currently only available in the United States, the Kindle has internet connectivity that allows the user to purchase thousands of books and newspapers from Amazon.com. In the real world it means this means morning papers are downloaded directly to your device regardless of where you are in the country and that travelling with 2-3 novels will be less than paper weight as the Kindle can accommodate hundreds of books. Once Amazon’s success with their E-Book reader has been recognised by other consumer electronics manufacturers, E-Book readers will be in everyone’s bags along with a laptop and a smart phone -- this against the backdrop of the war between print and online media. Carrying confidential document is no longer nervous duty thanks to memory sticks with finger print readers and encryption that makes it impossible for anyone to access secret PDF files – and in the process make suitcases with locks less dependable for protection of back-dated shares or secret voice recordings.
Online media has played a central role in the reporting of the civil unrest triggered by the controversial results of the Iranian presidential election. With the international media suspended from reporting, protesters opposing the results became reporters themselves through the means of uploading photographs and videos on twitter and blogs. Democracy has finally reached its true potential curtsey of the augmentation of freedom of speech by the web 2.0 where everyone’s voice has a platform to be expressed. The speed and instantaneousness of the web makes traditional newspapers obsolete and shed light on the reality that newspapers are old the second they have been printed and even more so when purchased 09:00am in the morning. On the web we can follow a news story as it breaks and even enjoy updates by the minute. Is print media then on the high-road to extinction or is the death proclamation a statement without ground.
Looking beyond physical vs. nonphysical aspects of media there is today a certain definitive difference that favours the existence of print media. It doesn’t take much more than typing a word into the search bar on Google to get a glimpse of how oversaturated the internet is. Every word or name Googled is stringed to abundance of millions of hits of which only a few of them leading to websites baring the sough after information. Only 1 in 50 websites can rival the intellect, depth and enlightenment of a glossy magazine that can keep you crawled up and barefooted in a sofa for hours puzzled over the brilliance of the reading material scanned by your eyes. The internet culture is obsessed with speed and volume, and disregard literature substance and beautiful imagery that entice readers into willingly paying for media. Just a handful of websites have had a success at charging customers for content online. And the websites mastering the art of getting online subscribers are surprisingly those with a printed counterpart such as The Wall Street journal and the Financial Times. Until online media has comes to term with the generally inferior quality of content than print media, the news and magazine-stands in corner shops will remain stocked up. Let’s not forget tangibility. We love to collect things and surround ourselves with them and create a sphere of comfort and security. As much I wish to own Kindle or try one out for a few weeks to read my books on, I would miss the texture of rough paper between my thumb and index finger when I flip a page or the colourful front covers that give books a personality.
The same lack of human touch is a negative attribute that comes with a Blackberry which when replaced with a new model, all previous calendar entries are left behind – unlike with a traditional mole skin covered calendar which is a joy to flick trough years after it’s out of date and mesmerize over the historical of your footprint – your very own handwriting. The ease of pulling a pen and piece of paper out of your hand and scribbling down a few sentences in the matter of seconds is embarrassingly less time consuming and complex than waiting for a laptop to boot up or trying to type on a fiddly touch screen based phone. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be advisable for anyone to buy a pocket calendar if there is not legitimate need for one. Dedicated stationary stores stock a dizzying number of different calendars and organisers. Creatively free people might prefer a manuscript note pad with no lines, page numbers of parameters what so over. Then there are jotter pads for short worded individuals who keep most of thoughts in their heads and only put a few crucial bits of information to paper. It’s quite a personal affiar because stationeries are tools for managing time and thoughts. What notepad size or number of pens you chose to house in your bag is dependent on the needs of your social and professional life. Best of all, stationary keeps your hand writing skills so that your ability to write neatly don’t degrade and dies before print media dies.