Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal

By William Powers

A paper by William Powers, fall 2006 fellow, makes the case that although print publications and paper are falling out of favor with the rise of digital technology, paper does still perform some tasks better. There are cognitive, cultural and social dimensions to the human-paper dynamic that come into play every time any kind of paper, from a tiny Post-it note to a Sunday newspaper, is used to convey, retrieve or store information. Powers predicts that paper will not be entirely given up as a medium, as there is no better alternative currently available for some of the roles paper fills. Further, Powers argues that the most promising candidates are technologies that are striving to be more, not less, like paper. This paper resulted in the book Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.

Download the paper (PDF).