Is Paper Obsolete in a Digital Age?

Is paper old-fashioned?  Are we stuck using analog thinking in a digital world?  I usually agree with Seth, but I’m not so sure today.

This antique "letter-box" style U.S....

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He said,

“The simple thank you note, for example, is a long tradition based on the technology of couriers and then the postal service. Of course it arrives three days later, because that’s how long it takes. At first, the email thank you note seems too impersonal, too easy, too digital. Then, we begin to appreciate the speed and it become[s] ubiquitous and then expected.”

I’ve received two notes in the mail recently – from people I’ve never met.  Both thanked me for helping them. They were thanking me for my “virtual” gifts (this blog and being a friiiend on triiibes), but I felt that I was the one who had received the presents.

I think in a digital age, paper is, dare I say, remarkable.  I have both notes on my desk where I can see them. I’d never print out an email note and keep it – and if I did, it would look and feel like every other piece of paper on my desk.

What if you sent your clients a thank you note (in the mail) occasionally?  Or a postcard for no particular reason?  Would that stand out from an email?

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Is Paper Obsolete in a Digital Age?

  1. Jodi, like you I usually agree with Seth Godin, but in this case I think you are right. The handwritten notes I received from superiors and customers are the ones I keep and they definitely make me happier than any compliment by email. I wasn’t sure I could explain why, but you nailed it:

    ” I’d never print out an email note and keep it – and if I did, it would look and feel like every other piece of paper on my desk.”

    • Hi Adriana,

      Your comment reminded me that I still have a note that a boss wrote me over 10 years ago!

  2. Jodi, I couldn’t agree with you more. We hand write a thank you note with every order and our customers love it. Most comment that it is unusual to receive this kind service and will be back. We all love email and it has its place, but a little pen and paper goes a long way.

    • Hi Blake,


      Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

      I wish I could have a garden..sigh.


    Sheesh, I was so annoyed with Godin’s comment about Thank You Notes. I recently discussed how wonderful they are on my blog (can I leave a link?).

    Thank you for your comments, Jodi – we are right. This time, Godin is off.

    • It was rather odd, especially since he talks so much about ‘souvenirs” adding to the experience. I wonder if he was trying to say that it’s important to adapt to changing conditions (a valid point) and just picked a poor example.

      Sure, you can add your link. Links are OK if they add to the conversation.

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