Predicting the future is easy. It’s getting the predictions right that is the hard bit.

To illustrate my point here is a list of the “Ten most endangered office gadgets” that appeared in the Daily Telegraph in 2011.

1. Compact discs
2. Memory sticks
3. Rolodex
4. Personal diaries
5. Calculators
6. Desk phones
7. The waste paper bin
8. Shredders
9. Mobile water coolers
10. Desktop hard drives

Now of course we are all different – but I can tell you that in 2014 I still have, either personally or as part of my office equipment, most of these. I buy CDs with audio books on and play them on long journeys in my car. I use memory sticks as a final level of backup when travelling with a laptop.

I get a physical personal diary in which I endlessly scribble notes and ideas as well as appointments. A calculator is always in use, I still have my desk phone and use it daily, the waste bin gets as much use as ever and I have a computer with a hard drive.

Let’s try another prediction made at the same time. This one said that the growth in the amount of information we each put out on email, twitter, social networking sites and text messages will increase exponentially.

Every day, it was argued in this article also from 2011, “The average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago – nearly a 200-fold increase.”

Actually I find that incredibly hard to believe. But still here’s another one, “We now each have the equivalent of 600,000 books stored in computers, microchips and even the strip on the back of your credit card.”

Some of these comments and estimates came from Dr Martin Hilbert and his team at the University of Southern California. He added, “When you think that 100 years ago people were lucky to read the equivalent of 50 books in a lifetime, but now most children have watched a couple of hundred movies.

“But the brain is very plastic and very good at understanding and processing information.”

Which is handy, because the researchers also said that each of us received around 40 newspapers full of information every day 30 years ago and 174 newspapers worth in 2007.

Now, because all these findings were reported in the journal Science, one has to take them seriously. So when they say that there were, three years ago, 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information on the earth, we have to listen and note that this is 315 times the number of grains of sand on Earth, which is quite a lot really.

On the other hand Dr Hilbert said that this is less than one per cent of the information that is stored in the DNA of a single human being, so not very much overall.

But let’s come back to the first point – the prediction of the abandonment of certain items in the never-ending march of technology.

What’s wrong with that research is that it doesn’t take account of two issues. First, the way that some old technology can be “felt” to be better than the new. Second the way that many of us have a feeling for old technology.

To give but one example of the latter, consider the vinyl record and how it was said to be doomed but is now back. Ditto the CD – it is just at a slightly earlier part of its cycle.

And here’s something else: the book. Yes you can use a Kindle, but not all of us want to use Kindle. I like books. I buy books. So do lots of other people.

Or try this: the newspaper and the magazine. I can read many newspapers and magazines on-line – but I still quite often buy a paper edition.

My point is that change isn’t logical. Good ideas don’t always survive at the expense of old-fashioned and less efficient ideas. Sometimes clunky things are nicer to have than things that are invisible.

Life’s like that. Which is why Admiral Document Storage is still here, still storing paper, still thriving.

You can find out more about our storage facility on our website.

Alternatively, please call us on 0800 810 1125 for more information.

Norway and Liberia – an unlikely couple

The link between trees and the Ebola virus

If you are a regular reader of my thoughts on trees, paper and printing you might well feel that I am wandering off course in this article, because here I want to write about Liberia. For although Liberia has a lot of trees they are not trees that are used for paper production.

However, given that we have talked about trees before (albeit in relation to paper and paper storage – which is what Admiral Document Storage does) I want to stretch a point this time simply because I was heartened when I read this story.

For it appears that Norway will give Liberia over £90m over the next six years if Liberia can stamp out illegal logging.

Now Norway, like Liberia, as you may know, has quite a few trees. Not as many as Finland, but still quite a few. So it has an interest in tree management and tree development, which is good because proper management of trees reduces greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

But there is more to this story than reducing greenhouse gases. For there is a thought emerging that the Ebola virus might be driven by illegal logging. It is speculated that deforestation in the Liberian rainforests disturbed Ebola-infected fruit bats which then headed into human populated areas, and thus initiated the outbreak.

And at this moment it is particularly important that we know all about Ebola, because the latest estimate is that at the current rate the virus will kill well over one million people by January 2015.

Now the reports of this development are anecdotal so far, but there is a further indication of the link between deforestation and Ebola. The regions in which Ebola has taken hold have had a prolonged exceptionally dry decade, which is again thought to have stimulated the Ebola virus.

Liberia doesn’t have a particularly stable recent past – which is why it has been hard to stop illegal deforestation. But it does have the largest rainforest in West Africa, and it has accepted the need for a sustainable development programme. The finance from Norway gives the chance for the Liberian government to put its programme into operation.

Speaking on this subject Silas Siakor, a Liberian environmental activist involved in the negotiations, said, “This partnership holds promise not only for the forest and climate; but for forest communities that have been marginalised for generations. The partnership’s commitment to respecting and protecting communities’ rights with respect to forests, is laudable.”

The letter of intent signed by both countries suggests that they will work together to “contribute to sustainable development in Liberia through protecting natural forests, restoring degraded lands, and developing Liberia’s agricultural sector through enhancing sustainable agricultural management, and greening supply chains.”

Patrick Alley, director of Global Witness, was particularly pleased with the news of this unique agreement, noting that, “For decades Liberia’s forests have been more of a curse than a blessing. Timber revenues funded Charles Taylor’s regime during Liberia’s brutal civil war. Since then the experiment to generate economic development through industrial scale logging has failed, with logging companies routinely logging illegally, skirting taxes, and causing huge damage to forests and forest communities.

“If Liberia delivers on this promise it could help spur the country’s economy and set development on a sustainable path at such a difficult time.”

On the Norwegian side Jens Frølich Holte, a political adviser to the Norwegian ministry of climate and environment, said, “The negotiations on the partnership we launched today have been ongoing since long before the Ebola crisis. “Of course, dealing with the crisis has to be the top priority.”

Like I say, this isn’t a story about paper and document storage. It is in fact about all of us.

But as always, if you have documents to store in the West Midlands then please do take a look at our website – or call us on 0800 810 1125.