Paperless Semester, pt. 2

First things first, here’s the article that the Library Journal quoted Franzen from that I referenced in my previous post. I apologize for not linking to it there—sometimes my best intentions fall by the wayside!

While it’s only been a week of going for a paperless semester, I felt that it was a good time to do a little bit of follow up about my experiences so far. On Monday, I forgot to bring my tablet to class. Since all of my readings, notes, and other handouts are stored electronically on my tablet, I had no access to them. And since I take notes on my tablet, I’ve stopped carrying around a notebook and pen. I ended up taking notes on the back of a friend’s old presentation script (and also ended up breaking the pencil she lent me, sorry Lynn!).

Other than this mistake, I would say going paperless hasn’t been a huge issue. It’s nice not having to carry around a full backpack—my tablet easily fits into my purse, where as all the handouts, articles, and notebooks did not. One thing I didn’t consider, though, is textbooks. There has been a big move to start digitally publishing textbooks (Apple’s iBooks, or Amazon’s Kindle Textbooks that you can even rent!!), but this move isn’t universal enough that the textbooks I’m using this semester are available digitally. Which means I’m using the print versions.

So, my semester will not be totally paperless—especially if I keep forgetting to bring my tablet to class!


To switch gears a little, I want to talk a little bit about some of the things I’m learning in class that apply to my decision and also an important point I recently read.

A hot topic in several of my classes is the digital divide. Anyone who is reading this (or has read this much of this post so far) is probably involved somehow in the information professions and knows exactly what the digital divide is. But just in case you don’t… I’m referring to how some people don’t have access to technology or the skills to use that technology (that is a very barebones and brief description of what the digital divide is—look at the end of this post for some extra-curricular reading on the topic). For those on the other side of the digital divide, going paperless isn’t realistic. Because of this, I’m not advocating that every student should go paperless. I have the ability and resources in order to make this jump, but a lot of people don’t. Maybe one day this can be a reality for everyone, but for right now, my experiment is a fun thing for me to try.

The day after I posted my original thoughts about going paperless, NPR’s Monkey See blog posted a reaction to Franzen’s stance about e-books. The conclusion? There’s no point in arguing over the format of a book. Print or digital, you should just be glad that people are reading! I agree. Even in a broader sense, who cares what format people are using information as long as they’re using information?


My classes and this little experiment (even if I’m still in the early days) have taught me that a variety of formats is the best way to store and use information. Every format has its own cons and pros. For example, print is a cheaper and more reliable way to store information, but digital makes the exchange of information easier, faster, and at times more accessible.

Some reading on the digital divide:


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