Can technology fully substitute the use of physical books and notes?

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We are living in a delightful age of seemingly unlimited technological possibilities. We have laptops and tablets, smartphones and e-book readers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Yet, some of us still reach for a pen and a piece of paper when we need to make notes…

Why does this happen? And can modern gadgets fully substitute the good old paper books, notebooks, pens, and pencils anytime soon? And, most importantly, should they? In this article, we’ll dig deeper into the subject to find this out.

Pros and Cons of Physical Items

To the younger generation, paper can seem old-fashioned. Indeed, who would want to put pen to paper when there are services that can help you write essay for me remotely? Still, there are certain advantages to physical media that one can’t ignore.

But can they really outweigh the cons? Let’s zoom in on the pros and cons of physical media as compared to gadgets.

Pros of Paper Books

  • Safer for eyes
  • Easier to find rare books
  • Ease of renting a book instead of buying it
  • No dependency on devices, chargers, etc.
  • Easier to use if you’re not digitally native
  • Feels better if you like turning pages

Cons of Paper Books

  • Heavyweight and big size
  • Easier to damage
  • Harder to find what you’re looking for
  • Need more room to store
  • Damage to the environment
  • Less convenient to use if you are digitally native

Besides, physical books and textbooks are great for those who can’t control procrastination. Of course, you can always use to help you with your physics homework as an emergency option. But if you want to improve the quality of your study time, try leaving your gadgets behind and spending some time in the library with paper books and notes.

Talking about notes, here are some pros and cons of using those.

Pros of Paper Notes

  • Better for brainstorming and putting down unstructured thoughts
  • Easier to share
  • Helps retain information
  • No dependency on technology
  • More convenient to use if you’re not digitally native
  • Helps maintain discernible handwriting

Cons of Paper Notes

  • Less structure
  • Easier to lose or damage
  • Additional weight and space in your bag/backpack
  • Damage to the environment
  • Less convenient to use if you are digitally native

These lists are not exhaustive – yet, they are enough to illustrate that paper has plenty of advantages. For some people (especially the older generation or those who are less dependent on technology), these pros can easily outweigh the cons.

Moreover, situations matter. Sometimes, the only way to find a rare book is to go to the library. Similarly, writing your phone number on a piece of paper can be more convenient than waiting for someone while they’re browsing their contact list to put a new name in.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Devices

Modern gadgets have lots of advantages, too, but the cons are also there. Here are a few of both as compared to pen and paper.


Pros of Gadgets

  • All-in-one (books, notes, apps, etc.)
  • More storage space
  • Easier to make structured notes
  • Advanced editing functions
  • Advanced functions in software (voice-to-text, etc.)
  • (Arguably) less environmental damage

Cons of Gadgets

  • Expensive
  • Fragile
  • Can be big and heavy
  • Consume electricity
  • Take time to charge
  • Cause screen fatigue
  • Software issues are common
  • Require tech-savviness
  • Need to be replaced after a while

You see, there are more cons than pros here, actually. Yet, the pros are so significant that for most people, they still outweigh the cons. But there are more things to consider.

The Force of Habit

Despite all the advantages of modern technology, millions of people worldwide still prefer paper books, notebooks, and stationery to electronic devices. More often than not, this happens due to the insurmountable force of habit.

Generations grew up relying solely on physical media, and many of these people have neither potential nor will to change their habits. They automatically reach for a pen and a piece of paper when they need to make notes and prefer turning the pages to scrolling the screen. Since both options are available, it’s their right to choose!

The Digital Divide

Another obstacle to the full shift towards the elimination of physical media is the so-called digital divide. The essence of the issue is, millions of people in developing countries can’t afford to own electronic devices – therefore, their only other option is to continue using paper and stationery.

However, the increasing costs of paper can make investing in a gadget more cost-effective very soon. Luckily, renting paper books is most probably still going to be available, which is a blessing for people in need.

Wrapping Up

As you see, both physical media and gadgets have their pros and cons. And though, perhaps, electronic devices have more serious advantages, they are not yet ready to take over the good old paper. Physical items have a long history with humanity, and most of us still rely on them heavily.

Thus, it’s a matter of individual preference and budget whether one uses paper books and stationery or electronic devices. In fact, most of us are effectively using both, and it’s not very likely to change in the foreseeable future.

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