Benefits of paper over every other tool:

  • No limits, because paper has an extremely simple user interface with no predefined style, rules, or guidelines.
  • Inherent collaborative qualities; it’s easy to share and easy to pin on the wall.
  • It’s easier to throw away what you only spent five minutes designing.
  • It teaches designers that that their ideas are more important to the design process than the tools they use.

When Clear came out recently on the iPhone, it rethought the way we approach the complex problem of making To-Do apps—it’s inherently a very hard problem to solve. Clear champions minimalism in its design and it did a great job of identifying the main problem with To-Do apps that exist nowadays: adding and removing items is laborious, which detracts us from actually getting those items done. But in the end, it’s limited by the confines of planed-software and 2D swipes and gestures. Essentially, it’s bound by current technology.

Why is it so difficult to create technology that emulates the versatility and simplicity of paper?

Form factor.

The best we can do right now for consumers is multi-touch interfaces but even with the advantages of that, they still cannot replicate the aforementioned benefits of paper. There’s only so much one can do by touching glass with one’s fingers.

We don’t need a faster processor or more powerful graphics card for our touch-interface devices. We need to apply the principles that make paper such a great medium, improve upon our technology, and create new form factors altogether, such as spatial-centric ones.