I thought e-mail was supposed to do that! Or was it .pdf files? Word docs? Then along came Google Docs & Spreadseets. Ah ha! That's it; getting much warmer, because they're web-based and therefore accessible from any computing device with an Internet connection.

Well, they all have (and there are many, many other digital solutions that I could name. So please don't flame me in comments because I didn't mention your favorite) eroded the need for paper.

SanDisk CEO, Eli Harari, said a little something in his company's earnings call last week that got my attention. Harari says its the flash drive that is really replacing paper.

Of course, that is something he would say given SanDisk makes flash drives. But, is he right or is that just conference call smoke-blowing?

I believe he makes a point and here's the difference. Paper (aside from the chiseled or painted rock) has got to be the world's oldest data storage device. It takes one storage format to replace another.

E-mail is not a storage tool (although most of us use it as one anyway). E-mail is a tool to create data. So are software applications.

Servers, despite being the mules of data storage, are removed and out of the hands of the user.

Portable data storage, like flash drives, are really the natural descendent of paper (and before that it's great-grandaddy papyrus).

I'm not sure if this is what Harari was considering when he made his remark.

I'm guessing the flash drive will not last nearly as long as paper has, either.