A pen, the next big step towards a paperless society?

Are you reading this blog entry from a piece of paper? By great chance you are not. Reading and consuming things digitally is definitely a step towards a more paperless society, but chances are there are still papers laying around your desk, or at least in the proximity of it.

The idea of a paperless society – or utopia as the enthusiasts like to call it – has been around since the 70’s, but what is holding it back and how can we take another big step towards reducing the use of unnecessary papers in the office?

The thing about this utopia is that it’s not just about reducing the use of paper, it’s about digitalizing processes and business models to ultimately save people from doing unnecessary and tedious work, both inside and outside the workplace. If you think about it, the idea of mailing a postcard these days might seem like a lot more work than it did 20 years ago. Not because it has gotten any harder, but because everything around it has gotten a lot easier.

If we move forward, some of the recent advantages with pen and paper over a digital alternative has been focused on creativity. The simplicity of picking up a pen and paper to visualize a sketch or an idea has long been superior to it’s digital counterpart. In recent years however, the art of prototyping and sketching digitally has taken leaps forward. The number of low-threshold prototyping software out there has risen significantly (here’s a list of some of the most prominent ones). This has extended the digital landscape from a place to finalize and publish, store and share to somewhere to also sketch and ideate.

On the contrary the process of opening up a computer, starting a software and learning all the keyboard shortcuts is still a lot more work than just picking up a pen and paper. This is where the pads and tablets come in. With the release of Ipad pro, and the Apple pencil for example, the discrepancy between the analog and the digital interface has lessened even more, and a lot of software and applications have adapted to that.

That being said, there are a lot of solutions that will help your organization decrease its use of paper through digitalization of documents, processes and services, this is all great for transforming your business. But in order to fully go ”paperless” the (user)experience of writing, sketching etc. on a digital platform has to be better than the experience of writing on paper itself. And in order to do that, you have to look not only at the paper but also the pen, and how they work together.