Later this week, I’m going to a sporting event. The tickets were bought online. But they’re asking that I print out the ticket in order to get into the arena. I just checked my calendar. It’s 2014. When will this madness end?
If I had to guess, I’d say that 75% of the things I printed last year were tickets to sporting events and/or shows where a physical copy of the ticket was required. Why were they required? Who knows. We all carry these small devices perfectly capable of displaying an electronic ticket. 1 But some venues are seemingly nostalgic and reluctant to change.
But they’ll have to, of course. And so I wonder: how long until there is no more paper in this world?
Yes, I know that paper in some form will always exist.2 But more specifically, I wonder how long it will be until people no longer print out anything? I have to believe it’s not as far out as some people may imagine.
Think about how weird it is to print something out in this day and age. Not only do we all have phones that can display any document without the need to waste paper, there are now millions upon millions of tablets even more capable of doing this. And soon, flexible displays.
Are we afraid of forgeries? Wouldn’t that be just as easy to do on a printed item — perhaps even easier, in some regard? Do we need receipts? Aren’t those a million times better in digital form? Term papers? Email them in.
Passbook, Square, Dropbox, Google Docs, and yes, even Paper 3. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the printed document is under assault from thousands of directions — with more coming each day.
Every time I need to print something out, I find myself Googling for the nearest Kinkos. Yes, this is my sole use for Kinkos now. Not to copy paper; to create paper. Because I do not have a printer in my apartment. Because, again, it’s 2014.
I know such a future must be utterly terrifying to HP. But again, I think we’re basically in the last mile of a printer-less world almost without realizing it. How many kids have a printer these days, I wonder? Less than have a tablet? Undoubtedly.
And when printers go away, paper will become something that exists only for certain purposes. A niche product. A relic. Something for special occasions. Just hopefully not tickets for sporting events.