The Social Life Of Paper

from the not-going-anywhere dept

A great New Yorker article all about why we’re unlikely to ever have a paperless office. The article is actually a review of the book The Myth of the Paperless Office, but just the article is interesting by itself. It talks about people (just like me) who keep incredibly messy desks, stacked with paper. Anyone else who looks at that desk will think the person is cluttered and unorganized – but almost always there’s a pretty clear mental plan as to how the piles are set up, and the person can usually find anything he or she needs. The article also talks about the invention of the hanging file cabinet and a bunch of other attempts at bringing about the “paperless” office. In the end, though, paper is a very useful tool that many people use to support them while they work. While computerizing certain aspects of a job may make it more efficient – there are some aspects of paper that make it extremely useful in the modern office.

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Comments on “The Social Life Of Paper”

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Fantt says:

Paperless Is Just a Myth Now

As someone else with a hopelessly cluttered desk, I have the opinion that the truely paperless office is just 10 years or less away.

As soon as very high resolution flat screens are very cheaply available which can mimick a sheet of paper (and being a computer, contain hundreds of thousands of said sheets) we should have a paperless office. When I can have several of these (maybe 6) in my cube, I’ll have no need for paper. I doubt my desk will be much less cluttered, but there will be no paper.

Also, I figure it is only a matter of time until inexpensive coatings are available which will make any flat surface such as a desk into a high resolution “flat panel” display, so I can surf the net or cruise my notes ON my desk. Should take no longer than 15 years for that.

Currently, there is simply no way to do away with the paper. Give us cheap alternatives which can actually do a lot more, and paper will go away.

paperman says:

Re: Paperless Is Just a Myth Now

Rubbish. Paper will never go away. There is *no* technology that is likely to be available that can do what it does. Sure, I can *dream* one up, but you always come up against the stumbling block of power – paper needs no power. Also heaps of paper tell a message which you don;t get from a flat screen.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

There’s also the problem that if you look for several hours at a current technology monitor, your eyes get tired. Paper makes your eyes less tired. When they make monitors that aren’t tiring to look at, it’ll help a lot.

There’s still too much of a difference browsing a document on screen, and a document that’s been printed out.

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