As the My Help Book key community resource guide was being developed, the most frequent question asked was: "Why are you publishing a paper version and not just a digital version online and a smart phone app?"
Here are the reasons:
First: There will be a digital version for the people who strive to be paper-free in 2015. Most paper-free strivers are tech-loving forward-thinkers who want to do what is good for the environment. However, there are environmental costs to high tech gadgets but most of these costs are invisible to the consumer, unlike paper, which causes clutter and recycling chores. So it is not quite a simple equation of paper-free = good for environment and paper products = bad.
Second: Despite the image of everyone walking around with smart phones, tablets and laptops, and widely available free wifi, there exists a ‘ digital divide’ which is a barrier to people who need to find help and information or even to apply for certain benefits.
"The digital divide remains consistent across all demographics with wealthier households far likelier to use the Internet than poorer ones regardless of their age. For example, Statscan reports that 47.5 per cent of Canadians aged 65 and over use the Internet (up from 40.2 in 2010), the biggest jump of any age group. However, there is a major divide in Internet use based on household income. While 66.7 per cent of households over the age of 65 in the top half of income use the Internet, that number drops to only 28.5 per cent for the poorest quartile of households." Michael Geist, Toronto Star, Friday, Nov.1st, 2013
There are 5 reasons people still have barriers to internet access:
Third: Some people simply prefer paper; they find it easier to flip through and browse information on paper instead of on a computer screen. They also like to write notes in margins (there are several blank lined pages meant for the user in My Help Book). In talking to people during the development of My Help Book, I found that those who like paper publications tend to be people who are over the age of 50, while most (but not all) of the people who try to avoid paper are those in their 20s.
However, for people who prefer to be paper-free, there will be a digital version of the directory in 2015, both as a downloadable PDF and as a smart phone app.
Meanwhile, everyone should read (ebook or paper) Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America by Giles Slade. There are also many other sources of information regarding the question of the environmental costs of high tech for anyone who wants to go online and look for them. Or if you prefer, support your closest independent new or used bookstore in your local community while they and their knowledgable book-loving staff are still there to help you.
Big list of independent book stores in Vancouver from The Tyee
Big list of Victoria and Vancouver Island bookstores: booksvancouverisland.ca
Big self-publishing resource list if you want to publish your own book (ebook or paper) at3PennyPublishing.com
Those who are anti-technology might want to read Abc: The Alphabetization Of The Popular Mind by Ivan Illich and Barry Sanders, for some historical perspective.
More on the digital divide:
Papering Over the Digital Divide - Washington Post, Feb. 2014
Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse? - Newsweek, Feb. 2014
Life on the other side of the Digital Divide - Motherboard, Feb. 2014
How mobile phones increased the Digital Divide - Feb. 2014
Cedar Rapids Library lending tablets to bridge the Digital Divide - Feb. 2014
Would shutting down analogue telephone system end the digital divide? - Jan.2014
My Opportunity & Help Book BC