Thanks, printers, you had a good run.

By Sherisse Hawkins

Dear Printers,

We’ve grown up with you. You’ve provided us amazing keepsakes, made our precious words portable, and allowed us to bind, staple and paperclip to our hearts content. Admittedly, we’ve sometimes gotten frustrated with trying to format documents so they’d print perfectly from you. Occasionally our beloved 8.5 X 11 sheets would get stuck together and jam, and a project would go from 5 minutes to 5 hours to actually hand over the finished product.

Here’s the thing though: we’re the type of people who geek out about fun facts related to the written word. For example, who on earth said paper sizes should be 8.5 x 11? According to a Google search, it was because of the arm length of people working to make paper by hand in the 1600’s. Hmm…. what?! Then, President Regan made the 8 ½ x 11 paper size standard, eliminating differences between government and business formats. Envelopes, hole punches, printer trays, three-ring binders, filing cabinets and a whole bunch of other things rely on everyone agreeing on the size of the paper we should write, type and print on.

And yet, Printers, here we are 400 years later and many archaic decisions still guide our communication tools and the way you print today. Yes, we can select portrait or landscape, or even splurge on 11 x 17 paper but how many of us can even carry that around? Of course we can change margin sizes and get a visual indication of how many pages “long” something is… but who said it’s the right thing to do, really? You and I both know the world has changed. Technology keeps improving, helping us read better, understand more, make beautiful content and print less (we are trying to save the planet, right?)

Now a special note to HP Inkjet 6821. It’s confession time. Our team moved offices earlier this year. Somehow you never got unpacked and you’ve been sitting in a dusty corner of the storage closet ever since, It kind of makes us think that maybe, just maybe, paper has lost its relevance.

But it’s not you, it’s us. We consume content on small mobile screens, project it on large monitors, read it on laptops, edit it on tablets and pride ourselves on going paperless. An internet connection has become as critical as the air we breathe.

Today it’s more helpful to understand if a document can be viewed easily on mobile without having to “pan and scan” back and forth across a static document than whether or not you can turn it into a two sided copy.

We’ll always remember the funny little noises your paper feed made, the cryptic WIFI setup codes that drove us mad, and how you and the fax tried to survive by marketing together as an all-in-one. (But the ink cartridge prices were always quite the scam wouldn’t you agree?!)

Thanks printers, you had a good run.

Sherisse Hawkins

CEO and Chief Content Futurist at Pagedip