Some weeks back, there was an Evernote conference and the CEO Phil Libin said something that’s really stuck out in the discussion of being paperless.
“The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper”
Now, he said this in respect to a new partnership that Evernote announced with 3M (see WSJ article). But, I think its a very profound way of looking at how we are treating digitally native experiences versus those behaviors which might have had a better context in print. Evernote’s association with 3M is looking at the use of Post-It Notes and making those small notes digital. I’m thinking similar, and sparked by a conversation with LJ of Urban Scholar, I think we might have some other “stupid uses of paper” to consider.
LJ was telling me about a men’s group that he engages in and they are reading the book Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God and I asked him if he’s making notes in Amazon’s Kindle service or reading in print. His response is that he’s reading the print version for not just that book, but also for other books that the group is reading. I wondered, in the case of a group of men sharing insights and progress if that’s really a smart use of paper. In contexts like this, we usually share items and it would seem that digital is the appropriate place for this part of the interaction.
I guess that I have to make the appropriate statements concerning digital texts: cost of devices and services, access versus ownership, and those folks who would rather have that page turning, ambient lit action. Eh… you know those already if you are reading here.
What matters isn’t so much our comfort, but what we enable as a result of the activities we pursue. If when we are getting together, we spend more time passing out materials and reviewing the instructions on them, than we spend in making sense of what those materials mean.
Concerning #mobmin apps/services: does it cause you to spend less time with admin, and more time in Him?
— Antoine RJ Wright (@ARJWright) October 16, 2013
I don’t mean that there’s not a place for paper. I mean that when we have digital text available, we should probably take advantage of what digital offers instead of constraining it to what we only know from a paper context. If that means displacing the time when text is contemplated from the group meeting, then we make the meeting time profitable for things that digital can’t do as well – like cohesive, corporate prayer. And when we do those things that digital does do well, our experiences through the faith grows past stupid uses into something that more authentic, and viable to living by Christ.