I walked into a seminar last week and no one had any paper. We’d all read the PDF’s uploaded to Blackboard, but no one had bothered to print them out. Instead, our eyes glazed over our bright laptops, as we scrolled through the documents. Our professor was appalled.

So, who do I blame? My god-awful broken-for-two-years printer, that's who.

Before my arrival freshman year, I packed a clunky printer into the car. It worked for most of first semester, during which I diligently printed my assignments. But then inevitably, the old sucker broke. At some point in the following months I got a free new printer. I went through the laborious task of installing the necessary software and I set up the new, equally crappy machine. This one worked for about six weeks until the ink ran out. I dutifully headed to Computer Connection where I picked up a new astronomically priced ink cartridge. But when I tried to install it the whole thing jammed. I even bothered to call the Riepe ITA for help, who came by and told me I may as well throw the thing away.

Nearly two years later I haven’t bought a new printer. In the case that I can’t get away with merely keeping my work on my hard drive, I’ll plot my most efficient venue of printing. If there’s time and class is further down on campus, I’ll stop at Van Pelt. Or, if my one roommate with a working printer is home I’ll kindly beg to print a few sheets.

But the whole thing is gut-wrenchingly inconvenient. First, there’s the whole emailing yourself the document or putting it on a flash drive bit. You then notice you've put the document in an incompatible format. Worse still, you realize you've left your email logged in on the public computer. What a hassle.

Yet despite it all, I just can’t be bothered to deal with a junky clunky printer and I know I’m not alone.

It’s hard for me to grip why, in our world of iPads and iPods, GPS and Google Chrome, that this essential piece of hardware is as bad if not worse than its mid-90s equivalent. Imagine if we were still using Friendster instead of Facebook, MiniDisc players instead of iPods and KidPix instead of Photoshop?

I’m not quite sure who’s at fault here: the cumbersome printers we refuse to use, or we, the digitally inclined who don’t demand a better product? While you ponder this chicken or egg conundrum, I’ll be running to Rosengarten to print a copy of my essay.


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