Paper losing ground in battle with technology

Published 11:07 pm Monday, August 18, 2008

The digital age is truly upon us. We’re all familiar with how cell phones and laptops have changed our way of life, but technology now threatens to reach parts of our society we never thought possible.

Take our neighbor to the north, Shelby County, which now accepts only online job applications for county positions, according to The Birmingham News. People that don’t own computers aren’t completely out of luck because the lobby of the Shelby County Administration Building has been redesigned to accommodate computer kiosks. There, those interested in any county opening can submit their names and qualifications. The service is also available at license offices in Columbiana, Pelham and Inverness, and all county libraries have the capability of sending off an e-application.

According to the story, Jefferson County doesn’t accept paper applications, either, and who knows how many other counties in the state have this sort of policy. Or how many counties in the country. It’s enough to make one wonder if applications, resumes and the like as we used to know them are soon to be extinct.

Letters definitely seem to be heading that way. Prisons, one of the last bastions of snail mail, are now going digital. Our country’s Bureau of Prisons is testing a new program that allows federal inmates to send and receive e-mail messages without accessing the Internet, the Associated Press reported.

“Electronic messaging has now become a standard form of communication within most American homes and businesses, and it can now be used to help inmates stay connected to their families,” the agency said on its Web site. “Strengthening or re-establishing family ties helps inmates improve the likelihood of a successful re-entry into the community, thus reducing the potential for recidivism.”

I remember how exciting I thought it was the first time I used e-mail, and I’m pretty young. I would have said you were crazy if you told me even prisoners would be using e-mail in the not-too-distant future. Then again, nothing related to technology should surprise us anymore.