An ode to paper

Español 中文
March 2011

I was just looking at my email inbox and I noticed that there were still 656 non-opened messages, without even counting the 324 that I designated with a small red flag to signify their importance at the same time that I postponed answering them. It has become so easy today to send an image, a press release, a pdf—basically anything you want, to anyone you want—that why should we deny ourselves doing it? Watchmakers hardly deny themselves this type of communication. You have changed the colour of a dial? That deserves a press release and a few photos. And, since the press release must contain at least a few lines, you jot down a few lovely paragraphs about the colour chocolate, for example. You are now in a store not far from Park Avenue, or from the Bahnhofstrasse, or from Trifouillis-les-Oies? It doesn’t really matter where, but you must let the entire planet know about it, and then ask everyone if they want to become your friend.

An ode to paper

A quick visit to your Facebook page is necessary—a matter of sticking a couple of notices on the wall. A body-builder ‘ambassador’ or a lovely lady ‘ambassador’ has just made a visit to your boutique? Click immediately on youTube and post your video online. Or better yet, click on Twitter and tweet about the visit as it happens. Each time, you can tweet 149 characters to say, “… her limousine has not yet arrived but already three people are waiting” or “his limousine is arriving but a truck just parked in front of the store” or “he is just getting out of the limousine… ah no, it is not him,” and so on, and so on.
What should we do with this avalanche of ‘information’ if we can still even call this profusion of insignificance ‘information’? Well, there are two trains of thought about this.

First, the journalist can become a ‘passer’, which is a nice word for frequently nothing more than taking information in with one hand and then relaying it with the other by placing it online as quickly as possible. This continuous flux of often trivial information feeds upon itself, we might say, using its own speed of propagation. The speed of the transmission has thus become a ‘quality’ nearly more important than the validity of the information itself. As long as we learn it immediately, the rest has hardly any importance. And, as soon as it is seen, relayed and propagated, this message is then forgotten, relegated to the bottom of the virtual archives located somewhere in Google’s vast digital storeroom. The current fantasy of the geolocalization by smartphones and the never-before-seen sales potential that it brings only increase this already obvious saturation. You will no longer be able to pass in front of a store, a billboard, or change sidewalks without your smartphone filling up with targeted messages that are ‘personally’ intended just for you and that compete for your attention. It is becoming a form of urban nightmare.

Secondly, the journalist can try to sort through this confused mass of information and then resend only what makes sense, having analyzed and compared it, and put it into perspective. In this option, the paper medium remains supreme for many reasons, but also (or even most importantly) for one very simple reason: to print information on a piece of paper, and then distribute this ‘paper’ takes a long time (at least relative to the instantaneousness of the electronic medium). It must pass through various necessary steps (be written, laid out on the page, printed, bound, loaded on a truck and, in the case of Europa Star, delivered by post to the four corners of the globe). As a result, it is relatively costly. You then must pay double attention to what you put on paper. You sort it, examine it and evaluate it. ‘Paper’ is therefore far from being dead. On the contrary, it is becoming more and more of a luxury product that must live up to its promises, a little like an Haute Horlogerie timepiece.

Source: Europa Star April - May 2011 Magazine Issue