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Re: Spartacus of Acrobat On The Paperless Office

15 Nov 2008 | | One Comment

I recently posted a comment on the Spartacus of Acrobat blog asking Stephen why he doesn’t subscribe to the the “paperless office” theory. After reading his reply I realized that our opinions are roughly the same — I also don’t think that the current technology (hardware mainly) is good enough to replace paper, but I’m a bit more optimistic about the chances of this happening in the future, and also optimistic about the willingness of people to kick the paper habit.

The reasons Stephen doesn’t subscribe to the “paperless office” theory are:

  1. Paper is highly transportable, with the caveat that I’m not talking about a 5000 page Airbus maintenance manual. For many purposes it’s a compact way of carrying data.
  2. Paper doesn’t need power, an operating system, or a device to work
  3. You were taught how to use paper documents when you were 3, or 4 or 5 .. well you get the point.
  4. When I send you a paper document, I’m confident that it will arive in the same format I sent it, the pagination won’t have changed, font’s will be correct, images won’t be lost etc..

Points 1 and 2 are obviously the key issues. There’s no doubt that the independence, flexibility, transportability and compactness — not to mention disposability — of paper make it an attractive medium. The convenience of scribbling a short note on a scrap of paper; of printing out a memo and reading it on the train home; of not having to worry about damaging the paper (since it costs mere cents to you); of being able to scribble notes in the margins of a document without having to worry about the accuracy of the conversion of the writing from the physical to the digital world; and so on.  In fact, the case for paper is pretty compelling — but so is the case against, and moreover are the advantages of a paperless office on the whole — reduced costs and quicker access to information, comprehensive multi-site data backups, enhanced security and less clutter  — enough for us to give up the convenience of paper.

Perhaps I’m living in fantasy land, but I’m confident that in the not-to-distant future electronic paper will reach a point where it’s not only good enough to replace regular old paper in most situations, but it’s also affordable enough for people to buy. In my opinion, this, coupled with the overall advantages of working with information that’s stored in an electronic form, will result in the realization of the paperless office dream.

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One Comment »

  • More thoughts on the less-paper office said:

    […] Hanna, my compatriot, responded with his own thoughts, primarily centered around the common idea that because electronic paper is able to work much more […]

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