Paper as Technology

We tend to overlook the importance of the media that carries the message when it comes to the instrument of paper as it is so ubiquitous in our present age. But there was a time when parchment was the dominant canvas carrying the written or printed word. It was a time consuming, multi-step process to convert animal skin into a usable writing surface and however expensive it was, it was the only option should one wish to produce a book. As the production of paper was introduced it was not adopted wholesale but rather took time before its use had infiltrated all layers of society.

From an article at:

“Da Rold has two main theories about why paper first came into use, both of which have much wider implications for understanding how any technology succeeds. First, it appears to have undergone a phase of cultural acceptance. This did not necessarily involve people using paper to write – it was just as common in late medieval England to use it to wrap up spices or jam – but the process established paper within the culture. Second, paper was actively championed by specific groups of people who found it useful: lawyers, merchants, secretaries and anyone who needed to record financial transactions. Paper was easier for them to use than parchment. “It became convenient because people living at the time decided that it met their needs,” Da Rold says. – See more at:

We live in an age much different and yet in our own way we have seen the roll-out of the technology of phones, cell-phones and now smart phones. The functionality of each of these devices has increased dramatically as entrepreneurs have discovered new demand for connectivity and timeliness of interaction. What was once dependent on rather fixed and material infrastructure can now be replicated in a digital form that obviates the need to interact with the world in the sort of patterns that had for millennium been a necessary fact of life.

We tend to believe that we are in an age of instant communication. But I would argue that this is only true in a particularly limited sense. It may seem outrageous that dispute may be made regarding the capabilities of communication as there are so many channels Television, radio, phone, email, text, internet publishing and paper are the major categories of communication that easily come to mind. Within these groupings there are many more interesting and specifics forms of interaction. What could be better or more complete in terms of communication than that which we are already blessed with?

I will rest the question with you and address it in the future.


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