Hugh Pickens writes "The first phone directory was issued in 1878, two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and for decades regulators across the US have required phone companies to distribute directories in paper form. But now the Washington Post reports that Verizon, the largest provider of landline phones in the Washington DC region, is asking state regulators for permission to stop delivering the residential white pages in Virginia and Maryland. About a dozen other states are also doing away with printed phone books as surveys show that the number of households relying on residential white pages dropped from 25 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2008. The directories will be available online, printed or on CD-ROM upon request but the inches-thick white pages, a fixture in American households for more than a century, will no longer land on porches with a thud each year. 'I'm kind of amazed they lasted as long as they have,' says Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. 'But there are some people nostalgic about this. Some people like to go to the shelf and look up a number.'"
The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.