May 2, 2002
5:18 AM   Subscribe

"Computer technology was supposed to replace paper. But that hasn't happened. Every country in the Western world uses more paper today, on a per-capita basis, than it did ten years ago... This is generally taken as evidence of how hard it is to eradicate old, wasteful habits and of how stubbornly resistant we are to the efficiencies offered by computerization. A number of cognitive psychologists and ergonomics experts, however, don't agree. Paper has persisted, they argue, for very good reasons: when it comes to performing certain kinds of cognitive tasks, paper has many advantages over computers." Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, on The Social Life of Paper.
posted by tranquileye (14 comments total)
Double post, although a nearly unfindable one. Had to go from this comment in MeFi to this one in MeTa to get there. None of the obvious word combinations seem to come up in it, and this is at a different domain.
posted by Su at 5:34 AM on May 2, 2002

just an aside: the social life of documents :)

title riffing!
posted by kliuless at 6:17 AM on May 2, 2002

Statistics on paper use world-wide. Compare item 11 to the information on this page and this page to get an idea how much our paper usage has exceeded any other form of national growth. Also, this page which gives a vague idea of the relationship between a country's economic development and its paper usage, and, accordingly, an increase in waste levels.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:22 AM on May 2, 2002

hoedown at the pancake party. and lawn bowling :) that rules!
posted by kliuless at 7:33 AM on May 2, 2002

Peter Merholz had a good rebuttal to the Gladwell piece, which drew excellent comments as well.
posted by lbergstr at 7:36 AM on May 2, 2002

Good work on the double post findery there.
posted by Spoon at 7:43 AM on May 2, 2002

Paper is sexy. CRTs are not sexy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 AM on May 2, 2002

Digital paper, she be comin' round the mountain....
posted by rushmc at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2002

I think it's a triple post. ColdChef posted it too. Or was it me? Hey, it's an interesting article!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2002

In an effort to cut down on paper use I tried wiping my ass with hard drives...I found the Western Digital 20 MB does the best job, but only the 7200 RPM version.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:32 AM on May 2, 2002

John Seely Brown is retiring as Xerox's Chief Scientist. Hire him for your next party ;)
posted by tommasz at 10:15 AM on May 2, 2002

Oh please, the reasons that we haven't gotten rid of paper are things such as comparative screen sizes and resolution - ie; laying out half a dozen sheets of paper on a desk in order to look through even a small document would require a screen costing over $10,000 to be able to easily read the same amount of imformation at once. Or typing speed - that majority of people in the workplace can write faster than they can type (even if you can't read it afterwards). Or off site backups don't make up for the fact that many people believe that documents reside "in Word" and often lose documents once they drop off the four most recently used under Word's File menu.

And top reason there's a peice paper on you desk is because someone else created it.

By the same token, give the marketing department a PDF writer and you'll see a major drop in printing and faxing.

Personally, I'd be happy just if nobody ever printed out an email ever again.
posted by krisjohn at 6:52 PM on May 2, 2002

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