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Is Social Media Like Carbon Paper

communication_evolutionWe recently saw an old episode of Barney Miller. Detective Yemana (played by Jack Soo) had a problem. He couldn’t find any carbon paper.

Do you remember carbon paper?




marylynnI have to admit that I barely remember it. Most of all, I remember my mom using it. For those of you who don’t, you would put a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper so you made a copy when you typed. Remember typewriters?



georgeBe careful, Mary-Lynn … I learned to type on a typewriter! The thing is – using carbon paper – you could only make about four to five copies at a time. Of course, then you still had to distribute them.


Copy machine
Enter the copy machine. You could type the document and then make thousands of copies. If you needed to make a lot of copies, this was a real time saver.

Of course, you still had to distribute the copies manually – put them in people’s inbox or mail them out. Someone might not receive the communication for days if they were in a remote location.


Then e-mail came along. Now you don’t have to make any copies. With the single click of your mouse, you have the ability to attach a document and send it electronically. No matter where the people you’re sending it to are, they can all have it in seconds.

Unlike snail mail, the hard cost of e-mailing is next to nothing. It’s a much more efficient way to distribute information.

Fun facts
We found this on an interesting post on the history of carbon paper. When you send e-mail today, you can “cc” someone. Did you know that “cc” stands for carbon copy? It’s a remnant from our past.

Here’s another interesting tidbit from that post: You can also “blind cc” an individual or group when you send an e-mail. Carbon paper was originally invented to allow blind people to write by using a machine. Of course, its use expanded way beyond that over time.

So that’s the history lesson.

Now what’s the point?
Information is being shared in new ways today. People are sharing it online in places like Facebook and Twitter.

People are connecting with more people than ever before.
People are staying in touch better because of these social media tools.
People are finding ways to create revenue with these new tools.

So here’s a question:
When you relate these social media tools to the history of information distribution, where are we?

Are we at the equivalent of carbon paper? We’re just getting started.

Or have we progressed to copy machines? We’ve come a long way, baby, but there’s still a lot more coming.

Or maybe it’s pretty advanced – we’re at the equivalent of e-mail.

What do you think?
Share that with us by leaving a comment, e-mailing us at or leaving a voice message at 877.988.BIGG(2444).


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Next time, we’ll ask: “Are you decisive or impulsive?” How can you know the difference? Please join us. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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