In Parise of Paper

Let's face it. Paper as a "technology" works really well.

"Man Reading Paper" by Neil Moffatt

When I unfold my paper copies of The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times every morning (if I have time to do so), they are about twice as big as the largest desk-top flat-screen around, and I don't even need to remind the reader how much lighter and easier to carry a paper edition is to the hand. Talk about mobility!

Most astonishingly, paper editions offer us an extremely flexible viewing and reading environment.

I can fold my paper editions (or some sections of them) to almost any useful size for reading, down to the size of the viewing area offered by a typical PDA, in a matter of seconds.

In fact, paper editions are laid out, purposefully, to allow such flexible handling, folding, carrying and reading by the "user." Not only can we fold them in all kinds of useful ways, we can also use our fingers as page marks, and of course, our knowledge of the physical placement of stories, gained through repeated reading, helps us navigate very quickly to the secions or articles we want to read.

This provides only a glimpse of it all, or at least all that is open to first-level perception. The mysteries of how our fingers, hands and the rest of our limbs are involved in memory, perception and comprehension requires a more in-depth reflection.

And, of course, I would like to mention the powerful selectivity of the paper imposed by its very finite extent.

When I hold the paper edition of the Financial Times in my hands, I know what I'm holding, what to expect there and what not. For my particular purpose, the value of the Financial Times flows from these expectations, based on the material it routinely includes but also on its intentional and selective exclusion of material.

The efficiency and effectiveness of the paper edition of newspapers leaves me dumbfounded.

We only come to notice and reflect on such mundane givens and advantages when a "replacement" technology lays a claim on the domain of an existing one.

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