Papers please?

Living in a material world.

I’m glad we have trees. The “paperless society” is a cute dream. We aren’t ready.

NM’s MVD and a Senator propose electronic driver’s licenses and identification cards. “Customers will still need to carry their physical credentials.” Not ready: digital benefits are hard to see with cards in hand. Will a cop look at your phone?

Count: checks, receipts, forms, doctor’s consent, contracts, and ballots. These still take manual marks on paper. Digital cards won’t prove who makes the marks. A physical card gives proof by face, signature, fingerprint, or symbol. The card may bear chip or strip.

Physical cards grant admission to the library, national parks, or medical facilities. They also grease the wheels for shopping and discounts. What’s in your wallet?

Beyond the cards is paper. Society is not paperless.

The marked papers validated by cards go to paper files. Paper summaries of the filed copies go into paper envelopes. Paper stamps and paper return receipt requests send the summaries away.

On arrival, folks read the summaries and create paper reports. Paper copies of summaries and reports go into cardboard boxes with others of their kind. Bosses of folks who read summaries and write reports, create paper reports. Get it on paper.

All this paper, start to finish, takes lots of folks. During their work breaks they may fly paper airplanes or read the newspaper. Or deal paper cards in games. Drink coffee in paper cups and wipe up with paper napkins. Wipe their noses and butts with paper tissue afterwards. And light up paper cigs with a paper matches.

Think of the Enterprise. Recall Uhura, Data, and Seven of Nine. I don’t remember cards or pieces of paper. A paperless society. We’re not there yet.

Press the space bar. Space: the final frontier.