Sunday, April 26, 2009

Next in Line for Extinction: The Phone Book?

The printed newspaper already looks like it's headed the way of the brontosaurus. Now a liberal blogger and a couple of state legislators want to

Posted By on Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM

The printed newspaper already looks like it's headed the way of the brontosaurus. Now a liberal blogger and a couple of state legislators want to condemn the printed phone book to the same fate.


Writing on Blue Oregon, Albert Kaufman praises a bill co-sponsored by two young Democratic representatives from Portland, Jules Kopel-Bailey and Ben Cannon, that probably would spell the end of the phone book as we know it, at least in Oregon.

As quoted by Kaufman, the legislation proclaims that "the annual, if not more frequent, distribution of hard copies of telephone directories by multiple publishers to persons at their residences without first determining whether such persons want or will use the directories constitutes both a waste and misuse of paper and natural resources and a harm to the environment without justification."

The proposed remedy: prohibiting delivery of a printed phone book unless the recipient specifically requests it - in writing or via the Internet.

Such a law probably would mean the extinction of the phone book, because without mass distribution fewer advertisers would pay for space in it and it would become unprofitable to produce.

Which would be just fine with Kaufman, because he sees himself as a savior of the environment: "Perhaps if we reduce the amount of phone books we won't need to keep clear-cutting our state forests?" Kaufman is so enthusiastic about the idea that he's trying to promote it nationwide via Facebook.

Now, The Eye is hardly a Luddite - we have a blog, fer cripe's sake! - but we're glad we have an old-fashioned printed phone book and we employ it quite frequently. It's often quicker and easier to use than on-line directories - not to mention being more accurate.

And once we start following Kaufman's line of logic, where does it lead us? What other printed materials should we ban as "a waste and misuse of paper and natural resources and a harm to the environment without justification"? The approximately 9,500 advertising inserts that arrive with your Sunday paper? Direct-mail advertising? Catalogues? Magazines?

Even (horrors!) the Source?

What the hell, why not just ban all books too - they're either available on Kindle already or eventually will be.

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