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Have We Reached Digital Nirvana? Not Yet, Study Finds

Despite the fast-growing usage of digital forms and electronic media, the life expectancy of paper as a key medium for reading and communicating over the next 10 to 20 years is very good, according to a new study of the impact of new technologies on reading, publishing and the use of paper documents.

Commissioned by The Electronic Document Systems Foundation (EDSF) in Torrance, CA and produced by INTERQUEST and the University of Virginia, the new study is titled, "Network, Screen and Page--The Future of Reading in a Digital Age."

"On one hand, the study confirms the shift away from traditional reading, to viewing or browsing. Yet it also says that a literal paperless society is not imminent," said Keith T. Davidson, president of both EDSF and Xplor International, a worldwide association of more than 2,700 organizations that develop and use the technology of the $110.1 billion electronic document industry.

According to the study, the way we produce, distribute, and consume paper documents most certainly will be altered by new technologies like the Internet, intranets, digital libraries, digital video disks, flat panel screens, electronic publishing, electronic books, digital cash, smart cards, electronic commerce, and electronic security systems.

EDSF's newest study cautions that we should avoid exaggerating the rate and thoroughness of change in a world where the vast majority of people, even in the most economically-developed societies, remain remote from intensive everyday use of digital media. The study envisions a gradual evolution over the next 20 years, due to initial resistance to adoption of new electronic information technology advances.

Davidson said in a statement: "There is tremendous conjecture that technology is on its way to replacing paper, reading, and publishing. EDSF commissioned this study to provide an in-depth analysis of when and how this might take place." Davidson said that EDSF was created to further demonstrate Xplor International's strong commitment to the importance of communication to society and to the electronic document systems industry.

Copies of the study are available to Xplor members for $145 and for $200 to non-members. To order copies or for more information about the foundation, check the EDSF Web site.



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