Everyone loves to write or at least everyone prefers to write than to type. It might not be as secure or safe as its digital counterpart, but it’s easy and enjoyable. Despite iPads and Surfaces, nothing beats pen and paper. Will it ever? I presume so, but I don’t see the technology in existence today. There are three hurdles that we have yet to overcome:
- Texture – Writing on glass is uncomfortable and unnatural, whereas, paper provides and ideal amount of friction.
- Ease – Although, taking an iPad around with you isn’t much harder than carrying around a notepad, what about when you forget your iPad or its out of charge?
- Nostalgia – This is definitely the smallest hurdle and one I see dying out if the first to hurdles are solved, but people thought typing would replace writing and it hasn’t.
I am hopeful that these hurdles can be straddled. The second one I see being the most challenging. How can you make something as accessible and easy as paper? Perhaps augmented reality has a role here in providing virtual paper. What makes this particularly difficult is that this is not simply an engineering challenge, it is one that requires a huge shift in many people’s lives.
No matter the technology, the act of writing will need to feel natural. If augmented reality is not fully able to provide this than perhaps in the interim, a hybrid solution will be required. Like the transition from the combustion engine to electric.
Of course we want the perfect solution, but we also want it fairly quickly. The situation now is incredibly awkward. As I write this blog post, I am actually writing it on a sheet of paper. Now I am transcribing it because no technology that exists today is great enough to decipher my handwriting. But even if scanning technologies could decipher the undecipherable, scanning is awkward because it requires every little thought or image that you want to write down to be processed.
I have not yet mentioned reading, which despite what you may think, is done more with a real book than an ebook (in the UK at least). Even with newspapers which are largely read online, their readers would often prefer a physical paper (cost excluded). Although the problem here has different hurdles.
Ease is not a problem – finding reading material on the web is far easier than finding it in print, even if you own a book you have to remember to carry it around with you. Nostalgia and texture play much bigger roles. Reading is about connecting to the writing which is much easier to do with another one of your senses involved (touch).
A waiting game I guess it is.