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October 15, 2014

Putting Off The Post-Paper World

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The Economist recently published a piece on the resilience of paper in our supposedly post-paper society.

"Ever since the 'paperless office' was first mooted in a Business Week article back in 1975," the article begins, "its estimated time of arrival has always been ten years away."

The article, published on their Science and Technology blog, explores the some of the possible factors that may account for our continued attachment to the written document in this increasingly digital world. Advancements in screen resolution and web font design mean that we can now read as quickly and as accurately from a screen as from a written document, yet still many people claim they have to put in greater effort to achieve a comparable level of comprehension. One possible explanation is the way our brains process different sources of light. Transmitted light, the kind projected from a TV or computer screen, is processed in a separate part of the brain than the light reflected off a piece of paper.

Other theories range from the appeal of the broader CMYK color palette (used in printing) to the attitude with which people approach digital media over print. Whatever the reason, people still rely on, and trust, the printed word for much more of their day-to-day business than anyone could have predicted. We marketers should take this into account as we consider the best ways to engage our desired audiences. Digital is, of course, the go-to for targeted, instant communication. But as this article shows, there's still a lot to be said for plain old paper.

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