Here is my premise: all the technology in the world cannot create a more neutral working environment than a blank sheet of paper. Nothing comes with fewer agendas or predeterminants. Simply, blank paper does not presuppose anything about the nature of the creation. Literally, it’s boundaries are nothing but it’s edges, which themselves can be amended, appended and manipulated in countless ways. There is nothing else in the world burgeoning with more flexibility.
Upon blank paper is born the embryo of the unrealized. It is all at once the most adaptable, customizable and versatile product available. Furthermore, it’s interface transcends the old unhelpful dichotomy of text and images for a seamless, integrated innovation space. (Paper definitely takes WYSIWYG to a whole new level!)
Later on, a sheet of paper can exist independently as an entity unto itself, or it be canonized, archived, collected or even bound to others.
Due to it’s incredible accessibility, blank paper provides this space of unlimited innovation to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. In fact, of all creation-enabling technologies in existence, paper requires the least amount of capital investment. Blank paper is socially unpretentious while simultaneously a tool utilized by the most brilliant thinkers of history.
Since its invention in China in the first century, later spread into the Middle East and Africa, and finally its full-scale adoption in the Western world, paper has proven itself to be one of the most transcultural inventions of all time. When traced back to the roots of its predecessor – the Egyptian papyrus — the evolution of paper has taken well over 5,000 years to hone. A simple piece of paper bears as much history and culture as it does potential and opportunity.
As far as productivity is concerned, blank paper provides the most distraction-free working environment yet known to humanity. The cumbersome requirements of saving documents and dealing with formatting issues (annoyances that sadly still plague computer users) are all removed from the innovator’s scope of concerns, allowing her to be fully immersed in the tasks of composing, constructing and designing.
Indeed, there is a time and a place for word processors and software applications. And yes, feel free to enjoy the modern notebook designs by Mead and Dayrunner. You can scribble in a Moleskine or draw in an About Blank notebook. Do whatever you will… but after you have exhausted every product in the “office supply” aisle; after you have tried every text editor app for your iPhone; after you have upgraded your executive portfolio notepad for the umpteenth time; after you have maxed your credit card for that “next great thing” to enhance your creativity and organization, you may just realize the ultimate destination in the pursuit of innovative workspace is plain old paper: a simple invention that is still changing the world.
So, when you really want to let your creativity fly without barriers, borders or constructs, you may just need to rediscover the miracle of the plain, blank piece of paper. Everything else is simply a commercial abstraction — yes, helpful inventions at times — but potentially costly beyond their overpriced complexity and often distracting beyond their claims of productivity.
Blank paper is quite possibly the optimum resource for human ingenuity.