Friday, April 18, 2008

Advising on the current and future role of paper

Maybe it is the season, but it seems that especially lately there's been a cacophony of print-reduction ideas and predictions.

I've commented on a few of them, as well as some reactions (see "A few HP (NYSE HPQ) thoughts on printing less" and "Please Consider the Environment" for examples.)

This morning's news brings a link from CNN.com's front page to "Lifelines for home offices drowning in paper", an interesting piece by Matt Ransford of Popular Science, or "PopSci.com" in Web parlance. Focusing on the home office, the article brings some sound advice that suggests corporate-standard practices like document scanning and electronic filing. I like the pragmatic approach, for example:
The key to the future of the digital home office is not so much a paper-free environment but rather one that is less paper-dependent. As technology grows more complex and intuitive, creating a digital office will increasingly rely on smartly managing paper with the technology at hand.

And another blog piece caught my attention recently. Alex Iskold at ReadWriteWeb has a provocative post titled, "The Coming Death of Paper as an Information Storage Medium" and dissects the role of printed paper in our daily lives.
The power of persistent information is awesome. If you have never contemplated what it would be like without it, just take a moment now to think about it. In a world where passing information is only done orally, information transfer is very limited and inefficient. The invention of paper and writing was perhaps as important and critical in the development of modern humans as the invention of language. Persistent information is responsible for both the rise of living organisms (DNA), and the rise of civilization.

Iskold goes from there to discuss different forms of print, starting with the difference in future prospects between books, newspapers, and transactional formats like printed receipts and statements (hint, his future view is good, not so good, and bad, respectively). Highly recommended reading!

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