Going Digital

Are you ready to go all digital?  Is your workplace ready?  Over the past several years, various organizations have taken the plunge to go all digital.  The publishing industry has probably been the most successful.  I don’t think I bought more than 1 or 2 paper books in the last year or so but I have bought at least two dozen electronic books and I carry them around with me all of the time.  I also use the electronic version of best sellers from our local library which I can check out on-line rather than having to physically go down to the library.  What a fantastic resource.

Newspapers and magazines are starting to go the same way.  At first they offered both printed and digital versions of their publications, but now some of them are cutting out the printed versions.  For example, the June 24th issue of Information Week, a free magazine that many of us in the IT industry have subscribed to for years, was the last paper version of the magazine.  In fact, for the last year I have only subscribed to the electronic version of SQL Server Magazine because it is much more convenient to carry around not only the most current issue, but the complete last year of issues on a tablet.  Furthermore, there are interactive features available in the digital versions that do not and can not exist on the paper magazines.  Stories can be linked to similar stories, to further information, and to vendors of products described in the article.  Advertisements can be interactive with links to videos to demo the product.  You can even email the editors and authors sometimes directly from the digital pages of the magazine.

Many of the national newspapers have digital subscriptions available today.  Even our local newspaper started offering digital subscriptions.  For those people who like to clip coupons to save money at the store, I’m starting to see more of the coupons go digital as well so that you only have to display the barcodes on your smartphone to get money back from restaurants, department stores, and other places.

I use to do all of my writing first on paper and then type in what I created for editing and formatting.  There was always something about the feel of a smooth flowing pen on paper as you write that created a sense of enjoyment.  Ok, maybe that is a little weird for some of you, but anyone who is a writer and began their love of writing more than 10 years ago knows exactly what I mean.  However, now I’ve switch to writing all of my blogs, documentation, newsletters, etc. directly in a word processor.  It is not always Microsoft Word either.  Any word processor will do because the basic functions are the same.  I learned how to type in high school and I find that I can type much faster than I can write the same text out freehand.  Thus I save time not having to first write it down and then type it up.  I still haven’t gotten use to writing on a tablet and I much prefer a standard keyboard, but hey, who knows.  After all, I learned how to use a mouse with my left hand so that I could write with my right hand without having to keep switching what I was holding.  (Yes, I occasionally would try to navigate around the screen with my pen and write with my mouse so it was the best solution I could come up with.)

I guess the only problem I have with writing electronically is the ‘darn’ spell correction in most word processors these days.  Sometimes when I misspell a word, the program tries to correct it with what it thinks I was going to say, but while it gets a correctly spelled word, it is often the wrong word.  Therefore, I sometimes send out text with what looks like stupid mistakes.  Yes, I know you are suppose to proof read your document before sending it out, but sometimes I even miss the most obvious wrong words and then have my friends question how smart I really am.

Anyway, my point is that soon you will be able to forget about recycling paper, because paper as we know it today will become ancient history like impressing characters into a wet clay tablet.  I can hear the trees celebrating.  But equally important will be the fact that we no long have to store paper.  Physical paper takes a lot of space and it weighs quite a bit.  (Pick up two copies of War and Peace and use it for your arm exercises.  It may be cheaper than a set of barbells.)  You can easily build a large library at home with practically no required space.  You can also carry that library with you and read on the commuter train to work or while waiting in line somewhere or even during that dull staff meeting that you have to go to every week.

Yes, sometimes there is just something comforting about holding a real book with real pages.  But with the improvements in Kindles, Nooks, iPads and even most smart phones, I find that I miss real books less and less.

I’ve always been a Star Trek fan and many of the things used in Star Trek have become possible over the last several decades since the original series.  Ok, we don’t have transporters or warp drives yet (although wouldn’t that be fun), but the flip phone style communicators exist as do the pads that were used and are now called tablets or even the iPad.  Some of the medical devices for imaging a person’s body to diagnose disease exist or are on the horizon.  However, never once in all of the episodes did I see Kirk, Picard, or Janeway need to fall back on sheets of paper for information.  If you haven’t tried it, try going a week without using paper, or at least a day.  At the very least cut back on your paper usage and rely on digital versions of the information.  It is not as hard as you may think.

C’ya next time.

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