It seems as though the Go Paperless in 2013 campaign has backed down from some of its environmental messaging. I am going to share some visible changes to this campaign, and introduce some facts that may have been overlooked or missed very early on. I will leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions on whether or not this is a victory.
• The website Paperless2013.org is NOT owned or operated by Google. A quick search for a “Who Is” will clearly reveal that Hello Fax is the registrant, and one of the partners listed in this campaign.
• Both the Twitter and Facebook accounts for Paperless2013 link to the site, owned by Hello fax. I have to assume the same ownership for the Paperless2013 G+ page.
• Google Drive’s G+ page has one post on this topic since January 1, 2013.
• “Save Time. Save Money. Save Trees.” appears in that one post.
• Paperless2013.org, owned by Hello Fax, had “Save Money. Save Time. Save Trees.” in the text of the artwork when the site launched.
• On January 13, 2013 I noticed new artwork with the text “Take the paper out of paper work.” I wrote to info@googledrive and tweeted @Paperless2013 to confirm it had indeed changed, but to date have received no response.
• On January 16, 2013 with the help of Jay Haddad of Choose Print, I secured a screen shot from January 3, 2013 showing the original text, verifying that indeed it had been changed on or prior to January 13, 2013.
• #Paperless2013 in grey text at the top of the webpage is a link. The link does not go to the #Paperless2013 hashtag stream on Twitter. Whether it is broken, or has been disconnected I cannot say, all I can say is that you cannot currently access the #Paperless2013 Twitter stream from Paperless2013.org through a link.
• @Paperless2013 Twitter: There are only 11 tweets to date from this account. A tweet is sent on January 15: “There are many great reasons to start transforming your business to paperless in 2013.” The supplied link includes NO environmental claims or language about saving trees.
• @Paperless2013 Twitter profile page shows “We’re removing `paper’ from paper work.” I don’t know if it was changed, or if it was always there.
• The Go Paperless in 2013 Facebook page shows “Take the paper out of paperwork.” I don’t know if it was changed , or if it was always there, but it’s interesting that Twitter and Facebook have different versions of the new tagline.
Those are the facts as of now.
Occam’s razor is a principle often brought up when you need to prove things without concrete evidence. It basically states when you have two competing theories the simpler one is often correct. Let’s apply that to this situation, you can decide which is the simpler theory.
Hello Fax decided to change their campaign message during the campaign for unknown reasons, OR Hello Fax was monitoring the Twitter stream, posts and other channels where the “Save Trees” message was being challenged publicly and readdressed it.
The Go Paperless 2013 channels and #Paperless2013 hashtag were launched on January 1, 2013, but Hello Fax and their partners havent begun to utilize them to any extent to promote this campaign or engage with Paperless pledge-takers as of yet, OR Our presence in these channels, specifically on Twitter, resulted in holding off promotion and engagement in them, and/or leading others to where they were being challenged for the use of “Save Trees.”
Whatever conclusion you draw, what is clear is that companies trying to sell products and services and create movements in the socialsphere by demonizing paper will be met head on with vocal and passionate pushback, by those in the position to pushback.
Now for a little editorial…
It concerns me that Google was called-out as the main culprit in this latest Paperless-gate. From everything I have found by myself, and with the help of others, it is Hello Fax that created the messaging. As well, in their press release they announce leadership for this campaign. This release contained environmental claims and quotes from their CEO and campaign partners Xero, Expensify and Manilla, nothing from Google.
Im not sure what triggered Two Sides US, followed by Michael Makin from PIA to write open letters to Google’s CEO here, but I would think Joseph Walla the founder and CEO of Hello Fax would have been the proper recipient. It’s also interesting to note Mr. Tree from Dead Tree Edition discovered Manilla is owned by publishing giant Hearst Corporation (see Killah in Manilla: Hearst’s Green Reputation Tarnished by Subsidiary), but no letters went over there either to the best of my knowledge.
Applying Occam’s Razor again, I could easily conclude Google was the biggest name, and also the biggest target to call out considering they are one of the planet’s largest print and paper customers, and have their own environmental footprint well documented. On the other hand, by the shear magnitude of their reach, they are also the most dangerous in regards to perpetuating the “save trees” message. If we apply prison rules, you always go after the biggest guy, not necessarily the gang leader, to show you aren’t afraid. If nothing else, the smaller ones think twice before messing with you, even if you end up in traction.
During more lively moments in the Twitter stream, the overall environmental footprint of the Paper industry was called into question. While there has certainly been progress in making less of an impact, industries in green glass houses might not want to throw too many stones at other industries. Being the lesser of two evils doesn’t mean “we” are good, and “they” are bad. Everyone can do better.
Suggesting people “Go Paperless” is a sound bite. It’s a simple way to communicate an action to the masses. I stand that the phrase demonizes paper, but I also stand that we should be in support of printing responsibly. Two Sides US is on a mission to work with companies one by one to address “Go Green, Go Paperless,” and the best thing we can do is help them with those efforts, peacefully.
Social Media is a powerful tool, and like Ben Parker said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Going on the attack, or presuming we are being attacked and attacking back is probably not the best strategy, especially if the “enemy” isn’t verified.
I started this post saying I wasn’t declaring victory, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t won something here. I have been reminded that a few people can always make a difference when they work together for the greater good. My time deep in the trenches of Go Paperless 2013 is probably over, but I will stand as sentry along with new friends, spread the good word of paper whenever it’s required, and help Two Sides US achieve their goals however I can.
VIVA LAS PERSONAS DE PAPEL!