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Papering Over It

There is something about a vacation getaway, even a short one, that can help one gain a new perspective on everyday life. While I was off with the family for the last week visiting national parks in the Wild West, the “real world” kept on spinning. And documents — good old-fashioned, paper-based ones — went along for the ride.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who still relies on hardcopy documents. According to research from industry analyst firm IDC, around 2.8 trillion (yes, trillion with a “T”) pages were printed in 2020. That number actually represents a significant decrease in print volumes compared to the previous year, which IDC attributes to many office shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those page counts are expected to go back up this year, by the way.

Although overall print volumes were down, the study notes that the number of pages printed on inkjet devices – such as those used by people working or studying remotely from a home office – increased around four percent. As I mentioned in a Blog story last year, the costs of printing on home devices can add up very quickly. Those costs are typically borne by the employees themselves, not the companies for which they work.

So what documents did I peruse while traipsing across the mountains and deserts of the western United States? The main ones were physical maps of Colorado and Utah, which turned out to be lifesaver. Because while smartphone maps helped us navigate the long stretches of highway between Illinois, the Centennial and Beehive states, they are not much help at the bottom of a canyon or on a winding road though thousands of acres of national park. Hey Siri, if you can hear me, can you tell me how to find a decent cell phone signal?