The Internet Of Trees

I have been kicking around this idea of a papernet (in brief: internet content in an auto-printed form) with a few folks. I’m currently building a OS X app that will do the early stages of what I want in a papernet endpoint in my ever diminishing free time, and generally thinking about how the beast might work and basically sorting through ideas raised by other clever bastards involved in the discussion so that I’ve got a scope document to hold myself to. (Yes, I write scope documents for my spare time development projects. How else am I supposed to know when they’re done?)

And I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “why in fuck are you thinking about paper, Al? Isn’t it doomed, and ecologically unsound to boot?” Well, maybe paper’s doomed. And, in theory, I can probably lash something together so that my iphone does this already. But electronic paper will be with us soon, and the idea is not locked into the literal dead tree artefact. The point is that I have something to read, on the bus, every morning. Something I can hold in my hand, that, crucially, does not require either power or a net connection. The idea’s transferable with technology. But for right now, we’re still working from the dead tree standard because most of the planet does not have an iphone, despite Steve Jobs’ best efforts.

But anyway, I had this all percolating at the back of my mind, and then my on-line grocery shop from Ocado turned up. (I am painfully middle class, I know. You’ll all know I’m afflicted by the recession when I start talking about shopping at Lidl.) And, well, take a look at the receipt that came with it. (Yes, I have cropped it to remove costs, because that’s between me and anyone that can be arsed with replicating this shopping list on the website.)


There’s a bit of papernet, right fucking there. It’s tacked to the front of my fridge, and for the last couple of days I have glanced at it in order to know I needed to use up before it went off when cooking of an evening. Electronic shopping giving rise to the physical thing I use as part of a task I cannot accomplish at a computer (until they invent a USB hob, anyway). Wonder how long it’ll take before your average supermarket shop does this with their till recipts?

(Oh, and they threw in a free copy of Saturday’s Times with my delivery, so I got my on the bus reading, too.)