Opting Out on Paper


I’m in Austin at SXSW Music. It’s part Mardi Gras, part Woodstock,
part college cut day. All fun. Musicians from all over the world have come to
be discovered and signed…and drink a little Shiner Boch. REM played at a
barbecue place last night.

The city is filled with taste-makers. Every kid with guitar or
pair of drum sticks is betting his or her career on the art they’re performing
down here. Lots of edgy people. One trend I picked up on is fan dissatisfaction
with paper. In the convention center, not too far from where the welcome bags
are given out, is an alcove filled with printed paper. When I say filled I
really mean strewn. It looks quite cool but is definitely a protest.

My SXSW welcome bag must have weighted 8 pounds: It had 3
newspapers, 7 magazines, and countless flyers and cards. Kids and smart adults
today don’t want to see paper wasted. They want to opt in to paper, not

Functional anthropologists might attribute this opt-out statement
to people not wanting to schlep the weight around, but the pile’s prominent
display says protest and speaks to the preference for all things digital.

Oh yeah, and there were also many CDs in the welcome bag. In a couple of years,
they, too, will make the pile.