Rock, Paperless, Phone

Dear Ms. Smartphone: There were no print programs or agendas at a two-day conference I attended in San Francisco. It was paperless. The daily program was listed on a phone app along with the room locations and speakers’ names. People were constantly checking their phones to decide where to go next. Since the conference was on technology and mindfulness, I found this jarring. What do you think? Katie B., San Francisco

People On Phones at Conference
Rock, Paperless, Phone

Dear Katie B.: I think I was there, alongside you. The vehicle or format that is used to deliver information is part of the communications. Perhaps there were lots of last minute changes, and the organizers could not commit to print in time. Maybe they didn’t want to sell ads to offset printing costs. Perhaps the app tracked the most popular sessions. Or, maybe they were misled about sustainability: The single biggest contributor to conference’s carbon footprint is travel, which accounts for about 90 percent of the carbon emissions from an average event. I imagine that the preparation of weekly church-bulletins fits into the same category. How do you create sacred and quiet spaces when the need to use the phone is placed forefront and center?

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