I recently helped someone use a scanner for the first time, and it caused me to consider the tool in a new light. What an amazing invention!
We took a book, scanned a page of it, which automatically emailed it to me, and I emailed it to her, and she posted it on our course management system — all in a nanosecond and all without one piece of paper. When you see it through new eyes, you can really be impressed by something that most of us take for granted.
I know that when computers first came out, there was talk of a “paperless society.” People felt that everything would be digitized and hard copies would go away. That obviously did not happen, but I think a scanner gives us a better shot at that than the computer itself.
The next time you watch that light sweep across your document and magically turn it into electronic signals, pause for a second and marvel. It may not be ‘beam me up Scotty’, but it’s coming close.