A world without print and paper at Publishing Next

There was a lot of talk about apps and gizmos and gadgets during a panel discussion: "Future Content: The Re-imagination of Content". This was the final session at Publishing Next, a two-day conference on “the future of publishing” in Goa.

12 Sep 2015 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The tone and tenor of the panel discussion was: there are lots of mobile devices and desktops and pods and servers and clouds which I need to buy; if I want to succeed in publishing.
That print is sort of dead.
This, the panel says, is the future.
So, I fast-forwarded to this paperless and print-less future.
But in the future, in a world sans print, sans paper, when I walk into a retail storeroom, I can't buy any of the tech dreams. 
Let me explain.
For starts, there are no printed labels on any of the products. Everything looks the same.
Moreover, I can't pay. My travel card does not function. Only the plastic cards remain. All my cash currency is gone; since there is no paper to print the humble Rupee, on.
Needless to state: bookstores will be empty and book racks shall be blank.
No one will read newspapers, but, news will be consumed on a tab. Gossip and rumours and slander will become the new news.
Living will be tough. I will no longer be able to sip my coffee or coconut water, purchase atta or cheeni, and buy cashew in Goa, because there is no paper cup or paperboard container to store any of these things. Everything will be dumped into plastic bags. Those items not stored in plastic, will become plastic.
Plastic cannot be recycled.
But no one can protest since words will die. All conversation will be in Unicode.
All stationery will be banished. Offices will depend on e-mail and PDF communication. If I have to write a note to the dhobhi and anda wallah, or leave a message with the neighbour, I have to ping my message. Or leave a FB post.
When two people meet, they won't shake hands, they will show their mobile phones to each other; and say, bhala tera App mere App se achcha kaise?
All tickets will be electronic. The postman will deliver your meal in a prefab container. You will remove the contents and return the prefab container. 
Medical books and medical reports will be gone, too. Warnings and expiry dates on pharma labels will vanish, too.
When you die after you have consumed the wrong tablets, your death certificate will be an RFID tag.
So, in the future, the print industry will be decimated. That means at least 25 million printers in India, will be rendered jobless. Not to mention, all the human beings who are a part of the print economy, who help with fabricating, transporting, and storing paper items in some form or another.
Once all the tech devices rule the planet, the world electricity consumption will double. The fossil fuels from the coal mines in Dhanbad and oil refineries from Haldia will be exhausted; since we will need hundred times the power we consume as of now, for all those electronic devices.
The pollution of air in the 100 smart cities will ensure new-borns shall have all the malaise and allergies and disease due to electronic devices and plastics which pollute the groundwater and soil.
And yet, all will be good until three scenarios unfold...
1. The electricity bill will come. And e-advocates will realise, paper is not so bad.
2. The chip inside your head which Intel has installed will have to be updated every three months.
3. The humble Baobab tree will be next on the target list since the ROI metrics for a tree is too slow, and there is no peer-to-peer advantage to a Baobab.

(Written with tongue firmly in cheek, and arguments based on a tongue in cheek talk by Frank Romano)