Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Fiber of our Lives

How Life Unfolds is the name of a new ad campaign waged by the paper industry. I read about it in the newspaper (printed on newsprint — key point) a couple weeks ago.

It's no secret that I'm a big believer in paper. I write about it occasionally (albeit in electronic posts on this blog!) and use it everyday. I scribble in an unlined paper journal, read actual books, make lists on scratch pads and send mail that requires stamps.

At the office I must periodically make a case to keep the magazine I edit in print. I have a list of arguments. For one thing, people aren't likely to look for their alumni magazine online, so why go to the trouble of putting it together if no one sees it. Second, ink-on-paper is a durable emissary. It hangs around for years spreading the university's good will — and sometimes inspiring alumni to write checks and mail them off in the paper envelopes provided for just such a purpose.

All of which may explain why I cringe at the paper industry's website. "How paper helps you learn." "Letters from camp are still a treasured tradition." "Back to school report: How paper gives you a leg up on learning."

If the paper industry needs a press campaign it must be worse off than I think. And in fact, a Washington Post article tells me that the copy- and writing-paper market has dropped by more than a third.

Maybe paper will go the way of cotton ("the fiber of our lives") and become an exclusive commodity. This is what I hope for. It's better than extinction.


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