Out of sight, out of mind: the digital weak spot


Last year the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) scrapped the paper tax discs we used to display in our car windscreens. Now these have been scrapped, on the grounds that enforcers can look up online to see if a car is taxed.

But according to the Financial Times (see picture) the lack of a physical presence is having a serious impact on compliance. Some of this may be because people think it's easier to dodge the tax. But I'd be surprised if it wasn't also because the lack of a physical reminder makes it easier to forget to renew. Although the DVLA sends out reminders when the payment is due, in past years I have found this to be unreliable. When I read the story I went online to check if my car was taxed. It would have been easier had I been able to just step outside and take a look.

The permanent physical presence of paper - glanceable, archivable, markable - is easily forgotten in the rush to a digital future. If 'glanceable' is not a real word, then it should be - it's why we put sticky notes on the fridge or write to-do lists. These things give abstract ideas, like our future tasks and commitments, a concrete presence in the room with us.

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