You stand up from your desk still practicing the speech in your head… You have been preparing that presentation for days because is the most important pitch of the year. In 50 minutes the lights will go on and no matter what´s the size of that meeting room, you´ll feel like in a crowed stadium. Everything has to go perfect, so you even printed copies for everyone… wait a second… printed copies? Is not enough with a digital copy? What about that corny and over abused message at the end of every e-mail in the world? Haven´t you read it?
It doesn´t matter, you feel like an old school pro because your are super ready with extra wait in your suitcase (seriously? A suitcase?) when you realize you don´t have enough copies. A last minute SMS (from the past) warn you about two new invitees, so you run back, open your laptop, press the button to print two more copies and like a kid on Christmas eve, you look at the whole in the printer as it was a chimney trying to squeeze Santa Claus out… but it doesn´t. Desperate you check the cables, fill it with extra paper, push the print button again and gently blow the aperture as if you were unburying the holy grail… and nothing happens. Your heart start pumping blood faster as a reaction of the adrenaline seeking to push more oxygen to your brain in order to get a better idea… but you only blush. You are already breathing faster despite the fact you haven´t moved and you start all over again. As a ritual you reboot your laptop, the printer, the modem and you even go out and get in again… just for the sake of it. Say a little prayer, hold your breath, push that golden button again… and that evil machine starts making noises! So you finally exhale and jump as if you had just scored a touchdown. Your cellphone start ringing -is your partner- you look at the time and discover you have spent the last 25 minutes arguing with a device that is not at your height. Not only that, you are running late, so your turn around to pick up the copies… and they are not there! Those noises were just a miserable cough playing with your feelings. That´s when you realize you have been defeated. Soaked in shame you run out, stop a taxi and command the driver to speed up because she is about to have the run of her life. You are feeling like in a movie and she thinks you are nuts. All because you feel good handling printed copies that were going to end up in the trash 5 minutes after the meeting ended.
So, what can we learn from this?
First, printers are like crocodiles: creatures from the past living in our present giving problems and second thoughts not only to Darwin. Printers where invented decades ago and essentially they haven´t changed much. While we have faster and smaller computers, radically different cellphones and even wearable devices… we still have to deal with jammed paper. It´s unbelievable! So… do you really think that humankind is capable of sending people to the moon, but still haven´t figure out how to make paper run smoothly through a machine? I don´t. And the explanation behind this: printers can smell fear. It sounds odd, but is the most reasonable explanation. Personally, facing the fact that a machine can beat me and play with my emotions is too much. That’s when you realize you are not interacting with a machine; you are facing a self-animated living creature that challenges you. Probably not all rational or conscious, but one that has evolved to be trigger by external emotions as a survival method. So when it smells stress, fear, anxiety or desperation it reacts malfunctioning, just like any animal plays to be dead when face a superior enemy. The poor printer is not seeking to hurt you, is just trying to survive. This is one of the few cases of devices evolution, because it has been over the face of earth for to long without any human designed upgrade. Is not their fault, it was our fault due the lack of attention to them (3D printers doesn`t count; actually they should be called something else).
You might disagree (or probably not) about the previous explanation, but for sure you won´t about the next one: we don´t need to print anymore. Tablets, the cloud, smartphones, digital signatures and multiple apps allow us to carry around document and collaborate around them without the need of printing them. It might be more comfortable to read long texts once in a while on paper, but even that is being solved with digital ink. Stop printing is a simple decision; you only need not to buy a printer. After that you will notice that you don´t need them. Everything is available digitally today, allowing everything to be more efficient, saving physical space and trees, wasting less time and having all those documents stored one click away. So printing should be something rare and printers should live in museums where they belong.
Perform at work, enjoy life