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Opinion

Paper still matters?

READERS' VIEWS - The Freeman

The frequent whirring of printers in offices --despite the internet, Microsoft Word, social media (I love Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), scanners, smart phones applications and many much more --attest to that.

I was very old fashioned in many things. While still typing on an old manual typewriter, my former colleagues in different publishing houses already used electric units. I loved my antique typewriter. I love it until today. Yes, it's still here at my office in Davao City. I can't use it anymore, because no more ribbons are available in the Philippines. It's fine for me. My electric typewriter is also here. Just beside the manual unite. Those were the days, my love...

It has been sometimes at the end of the 1990s. I worked in an international publishing house in Berlin with branches in Amsterdam and New York. I still used one of those wonderful electric typewriters --and tried to avoid a personal computer. During that time, I needed to hold paper in my hands. Paper, says the productivity expert David Allen, is "in your face". I strongly agree with David. He said, "its physical presence can be a goal to completing tasks, whereas computer files can easily be hidden and thus forgotten. I am also returning to paper planners for this very reason. Smile...

David Allen, the author of "Getting Things Done", does much of his writing on a computer. So do I, meanwhile. But, there are still times when writing with a fountain pen on a notepad. It allows "us" to get "our" heads in the right place. When I tried to learn more from David Allen, I really got surprised, that we have many things in common. Old fashioned or not? I don't care. Here are some facts:

Paper printouts serve an important function. For long texts, a printout can allow a reader to better understand relationships between sections and writings. Paper handouts are still a presence at meetings partly because they are useful for taking notes. Reading a long document on paper rather than on a computer screen helps people "better understand the geography of the argument contained within, "said Richard H.R. Harper, a principal researcher for Microsoft in Cambridge/England and co-author with Abigail J. Sellen of "The Myth of the Paperless Office," published already in 2001.

I also strongly agree with Sellen, saying, that using more than one computer screen can be helpful for all this cognitive juggling. But when workers are going back and forth between points in a longer document, it can be more efficient to read on paper.

How about "e-reading a book"? A novel, a drama, whatever? What do you prefer, my dear reader? You wanna know my opinion? I am sure, you can imagine. Yes guys, I still need a book in my hands for my leisure reading. I need to feel the book as well as I need to smell a fresh-printed newspaper. Environment savers might start yelling at me now, though I am one of them. So, where is the edge and borderline?

Paper can be indeed a luscious and beautiful thing --the way we savor fine food and wine, as Steve Leveen, co-founder and CEO of Levenger, said. People complain that writing by hand is slow (yes I am really!), but that can be good for thinking and creating! Here we are again!

Yes, it matters still. In defense of the power of paper! What do you think, my dear readers, while holding this newspaper right now in your hands?

Klaus Doring

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