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The Rise of Technology / The Fall of Trees?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the the-more-things-change dept.

Technology 397

cetan asks "Why is it that the further we get into this technological revolution, these incredible advances in communication, and begin to unfold the power of the internet that people (in general) insist on printing EVERYTHING out?? Everyday, I see more and more junk being sent to the print queues. Web pages, PDF files, auto-responder emails, the list goes on and on. And, this trend seems to have no end in sight. The further we advance, the more people seem to want to print. Why is this? What is driving this phenomenon? I, of course have my own hypotheses on this matter, but I'm curious as to what others think about it." Interesting thought. I have some thoughts on this matter. Click below to read them.

Although I agree that, technology has come far, we haven't come far enough to replace the simplicity found in holding information on paper. PDAs just don't have the display area to handle the density of information one can scratch out on a nearby notebook pad. Fact is, paper is still the primary medium of information transfer, although the internet is catching up. I think advances in wearable technology (display googles) plastics and LCD displays (think: roll up monitors) will be the things that may reverse this trend and make paper a thing of the past. What do you all think?

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BINGO!! (+ 2001 ASO) >>Can't take a screen to the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655947)

BINGO. I'm about to head to the head right now, and I'm going to take the printout from "Cyberclasm" earlier today to read. As for laptops, I don't have one. But I'd really like to see the Newspad from 2001. It's a beautifully minimalist approach to simply reading electronic content. The stylus is nice, but "creeping complexity" is to be feared, before it turns into a laptop.

Think old. Print it out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655948)

I've found that they're generally older folks, or at least ones that haven't embraced 'puters. Basically, anyone under 25 doesn't seem to have this affliction. Don't worry, they'll be dead soon. We can use them to fertilize the trees.

Seriously, do your best to berate them for this activity. Taunt them. Belittle them. "Luddite! Luddite!"

If that doesn't work, take away their printing privs. :)

Ergonomics and screen quality are the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655949)

If you want to read something on screen, you have to sit motionless and stare at it. You can't sit on a comfy couch and shift around. Very few monitors are as good as a sheet of paper. I have a 21" trinitron, and I still find a sheet of paper more comfortable to read. Also, when reading source code, it's easy to stick your fingers in a few places and flip back and forth rapidly. Few electronic documents are as easy to navigate...

Re:So much for the paperless office! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655950)

I think the backfire is from all the stupid fucking business people out there who don't have a clue. I work at a retail computer store. We have a fax, I turn it off frequently. When a sales person calls me to fax me something, I ask if they can email it. If they can't, why the hell would I do business with a company in the computer field that can't email?

Re:bathroom reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655951)

What do you mean "when"? Granted, I don't seem to spend as much time on the can as some readers here, but nonetheless, I have a terminal in the powder room. (mostly because there's no room anywhere else..but it is nice to surf & squat)

And...wireless networking is proliferating..take that laptop anywhere...ANYWHERE.

Re: the fall of trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655952)

The obvious reason that we still use paper is that the average display gives about one page. If you print it out you can open it out and get two or even 8 pages at once. The cost of doing that with Video or LCDs is still quite high. Matrox have multiheaded cards, but the monitors aren't cheap. Xerox and others are experimenting with reusable 'paper'- actually it will probably be closer to celophane or cardboard- that you can put through a special printer. That will be well cool if they can sort it out- the resolution at the moment is poor- like ~15 dpi but they're working on it! Lets face it, unless the thing you are looking at changes much- paper is still a superior technology- higher resolution, more colors, non volatile, and renewable.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655953)

scribble something on even a Palm Pilot? Well, you got to boot it up first. Paper doesn't need to go through a boot-up sequence.

Uh, I guess you've never used one then, Gramps. I haven't used a post-it note ONCE since I got my Pilot. And to someone who asked, yes, I DO use notepad.exe to jot notes, so there.

Paper wastage through ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655954)

It is exceptionally useful to print out documents on paper, to take it with you, to make notes in the margin and highlight interesting items. However, the majority of paper usage here come from:
  • Users not understanding unix printing (lpr core, lpr *, lpr foo.pdf, etc)
  • Boss doesn't read email. His secretary prints it all out (spam included) and gives it to him.
  • Printing a 300 page document when you only really wanted the first 5 pages because "I didn't know how to stop it".

The vast majority of our paper usage is wastage because of ignorance. From a business perspective, this is bad not because of the environmental impact or the cost of paper and toner, but because of the amount of time people spend hanging around the printer, waiting for something to print, shuffling papers, wasted secretary time, etc.

If I were a manager, I'd keep my eye on the printer when it comes time to get rid of people. Usually the people with the longest time in the print queue are the people least productive.

printing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655955)

Aww man, this one's so good, I think I need to print it out.....

use UNIX::Philosophy; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1655956)

People prefer paper, because they haven't witnessed the power of the Unix Philosophy in action. They have no idea how powerfully text can be manipulated w/ pipes and filters.

When I was ignorant, I used to print a lot. Then I accidentally came across The UNIX Philosophy [] , and I learned how paper is the death certificate of data. It was one of many enlightening ideas to be found in that book.

I highly recommend it. --just another perl hacker

Beats Me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1656037)

I have colleagues that don't even read their email until they print it out. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me...

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1656038)

Actually, about 60% is farmed. The rest is periodically clear cut scrub pine. My family has been in Texas since it was Mexico and we own a lot of basically worthless pine scrub land in East Texas. Oil and gas on all side, but not under our property. Damn it. I could have used a Ferrari in high school. Anyway, about every 25 years, them pine scrub is dense enough to get Temple EastTex or someone (I actually think that they are some one else now) to come out and clear cut. They hydromulch the hills and do this before it rains. It annoys the deer, but a year later the whole place is over grown and there are lots and lots of critters all over. No, you certainly don't have an ecosystem like an old growth pine forest, but the animals are hardly wiped out. AFAIK, a lot of US timber off of private lots is used that way.

Environmental quality is a renewable resource too, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1656039)

But I don't want to live in a time when the environment is trashed.

Looks like I have not choice, though. Thanks mom and dad for polluting the air. Thanks management for printing everything that goes through your computer.

Re:Hip New Media? (2)

davie (191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656048)

I think Guggenheim invented the museum [] .

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (2)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656051)

THis is not entirely true. You've seen your friendly neighboorhood "National Forest" before I'm sure. Well, you might be suprised to learn what those forests are for. The actual purpose of National Forests is to sell those trees to people who need wood. I'm assuming that part of "people who need wood" is the paper companies. So while trees ARE a renewable resource, they're not renewed.

On another note however, I read just last week that the National Forest people are the only group in the country (private sectors included) that cut down more trees than they plant every year. So they're the biggest offenders anyway.

Various things (including the loo, and my father) (2)

xpurple (1227) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656055)

Ok, first off, I like to read in the bathroom. Mostly while taking a nice hot bath. Read many a fine novel in there. Not to mention various users manuals..But, oddly enough, I use my PalmPilot for this. I've got 4 megs of ram on it. So I can store quite a bit of information. And, the nice thing, is I can use it even if the light is not goodenough for paper. Thank the gods for backlighting. I fear droping it a bit, but not too much. I keep a backup, and water won't fry it too bad...probably just make me restore a backup, and take it apart, and clean it. Done that enough times already.

So, in general, I *NEVER* print anything off...heck, I don't even own a printer...I have 6 computers...monitors stacked/side by side...2/3. This works very well for comparing odds, and ends. I am still a bit dumbfounded how people can get by with just one monitor. Have slashdot up on one, icq on another, irc on the next, emacs the next, and one for mp3's...(note, most of these are dumb terms(Wyse baby!)).

Now, on the other hand, my father (who will remain anonymous), has a computer I put togehter for him (quite nice), and with it, a digital camera, scanner, and a nice printer. He prints off everything you can imagine. Gets email...prints it off, and deletes it (he doesn't want to fill the 12gig HD:). Same thing with pictures he scans in, or photos he takes with the camera. It's pretty cheesy in my opinion, but, he is so set in his ways. I don't know how to fix the probelm. Oh, the other thing he does, is when he saves a file, he saves to disk(yes, floppy). He has stacks of disks laying around bigger than I did when I was a kid (I only had a floppy drive on my first computer).

As much as I hope for a paperless office, I don't expect to see it at this rate...except in my own home...

bathroom reading (1)

alta (1263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656056)

This problem will finally go the way of the Dodo when the internet is available in the bathroom. Now, no more need to print that Howto before I go for a sit. Just look it up in the john. Btw, I think the ibook and airport will be the beginning of this. Sure I can take a laptop to the bathroom now, but who wants to drag an ethernet/phone cable in?

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (1)

shine (1502) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656065)

Hemp is an even more renewable resource!

Paper (4)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656066)

You can read it in the bath, in bed, on the train, upside down, on the loo, anywhere there's enough light and a comfy seat. (While you can read a palm pilot in the bath and all those other places, a chunk of paper is easier to replace if you drop it in)

You can write on it. Don't underestimate the value of scratching notes onto things - the number of notes I've made on my printouts of important RFC's is uncountable (well, I'm not going to count them :)). While electronic annotations are available, they're not nearly as good as being able to just draw an arrow up to another part of the text.

It's quicker to write on paper than fire up some application - even on a palm pilot. (NB: This requires the availability of pens - something most households and offices seem to have a vast shortage of - in fact I'm convinced of the existance of a pen demon somewhere that hordes pens).

You can bend paper. Paper aeroplanes are very theraputic - especially when made of some of the RFC's :)

You can eat paper. OK - it's not exactly a Whopper - but it's a "fun snack between meals" (TM).

It's healthier to read than a CRT. (and probably healthier to eat...)

It makes you look important and busy. Try looking busy with a cluttered WindowMaker. Now try it with a cluttered desk - much better :)

It keeps the office alive - think what a boring place it would be if no-one had to bash the printer or swear at the NT box doing print serving.

Paper is here for good. Let's hear it for paper!

perl -e 'print scalar reverse q(\)-: ,hacker Perl another Just)'

The dpi is still way too low (2)

substrate (2628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656075)

The problem is the lack of resolution. IEEE has a comendable online presense, I can download the last N years of articles for any periodicals I subscribe to. I do this frequently, they're Adobe PDF files which are pretty portable. The only problem is that they're fairly illegible even on the 21" monitor before me, so I end up printing them out.

You could zoom in and read that way but the charts are typically scattered and you end up zooming in and out for cross referencing and is generally just a pain.

There's just not enough dpi to legibly display a full page of text at the font sizes periodicals are published in.

For schematics and stuff I never print them out unless I'm going to go over something with somebody, it's nice to be able to mark things up on the fly.

FAQ (1)

Chris Siegler (3170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656076)

According to the EPA faq [] , paper represents 36% of waste. It may not seem like it, but most of that is actually in the form of cardboard boxes, not printer paper.

I too print stuff out on rare occasions, like pdf or ps docs. With postscript, the problem is the blurry fonts, and with both pdf and ps my 17" screen is too small to display the whole page which is frustrating. You also can't mark up a pdf doc with highlighter.

And for goodness sakes, how long do Slashdotters take to shit? If it's more than five minutes, then eat more dietary fiber or just concentrate harder.

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (4)

named (3909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656078)

I honestly doubt that even close to 'all' of the paper used in the US is from tree farms. I know that the pulp & paper industry in canada (especially on the west coast, where i'm from) does, indeed, cut down large swaths of untouched forest to make newsprint (and other fine products). At least they did when I was still watching.

as many other people have commented, hemp would make wonderful paper. You get (i think) 4x as much product out of an acre of hemp as out of an acre of forest. And for some reason, hemp grows like a weed :)

Why do people not pick up their printouts? (1)

JeffL (5070) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656080)

Yes, yes, many posts have commented on the ease of reading paper over a monitor, and the portability, durability, disposability of paper over electronic media. If it is the case that people are printing things out to read on the bus/toilet/beach/etc., why do they not pickup their printouts? Every day when I go home I throw 10-100 pages of printouts into the recycle bin next to the printer. If I thought my computing budget would actually see any of the money, I would start lpd accounting.

Programmers Don't Need Paper (1)

eGabriel (5707) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656081)

I had no printer at home for a very long time, and finally bought one, which I used to print two time sheets. At work I print nothing, unless it is for a client to look at, and I always offer it in electronic format first unless the client is coming onsite.

If a book is available at Gutenberg's site, I read it online, or have my speech synth read it to me.

Now, the downside is we are still depleting resources, because of the electricity that allows you to be online anyway. Wasting trees to produce papers that will be referred to only once, however, seems so WRONG that I just can't bring myself to do it.

Paper is too convenient... (1)

Jeff Monks (6068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656084)

My thinking is that, while information technology has advanced greatly, so has printer technology. Almost everyone has access to a laser printer or high-quality inkjet, and even low-end printers output at 6 ppm now. Remember when a 2 ppm laser printer cost $5000? Not too long ago. So now people have more information to deal with, and an easy, quick, high-quality way to "transform" that information into a medium they are comfortable with.

It doesn't matter how quickly electronic paper and PDAs advance - until such technology is in the schools, and kindergarten students are learning to write the alphabet on it, people will still choose paper. It's the earliest "information technology" we are exposed to, so it's the one we're most comfortable with. Couple that with the general unreliability most folks think is inherent in computers (thanks to the abundance of crappy PC software), and they're far more likely to trust a pen and a daytimer than a Palm XVXIII.

Anyhow, that's my hypothesis, and I'm sticking with it.

Portable (1)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656085)

Well, I have yet to see any computer that's as portable as a couple of pieces of paper. You can call it a "notebook" computer, but it still weighs three to five pounds, only runs a couple of hours on a charge and is a bitch to read in harsh sunlight. You can fold up a piece of paper and stuff it in your pocket. There's no waiting for the OS to boot when you want to read it, or fiddling with scrollbars. You can more or less instantly flip back and forth between bookmarks. You can read a piece of paper sitting at a desk, or in your easy chair, or at the beach, or sitting up in a tree.

Also, computer screens are still really low resolution compared to even a poor printout. Compare a 28 pitch monitor with a 300DPI printout, and it's no wonder hackers have such problems with their eyes...

Several possible reasons (1)

argathin (8462) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656090)

The way I see it, there are several possible reasons for the paper flood:
  • Handling 1: You simply can't take your electronic notes to a meeting - at least not that easily
  • Handling 2: Nothing is as portable as a sheet of paper - you can read through it everywhere, whereas for electronic texts, you need to sit down in front of a screen or at least own a laptop or similar (which is not as nice to handle)
  • Handling 3: Ever tried to mark an important text passage in a PDF file you didn't write yourself and to which you only have read access?
  • Distrust: Most people still have a very deep distrust when it comes to computers. The fear to loose informations in case of a crash is always there. Unfortunately, over the past years, this fear has been nourished by the shoddy quality of most consumer computer products (H/W and S/W), like e.g. by a certain company in Redmond... (SCNR).
  • Ergonomy: Even with very good monitors, many people (including me) find text on paper easier on the eyes than text on screens.

I wonder how these obtacles could be overcome - something like "electronic paper", maybe. It would have to be extremely easy to use, however, otherwise it won't catch on.

My 2 Eurocent,


Re:Can't take a screen to the bathroom (1)

hawkfish (8978) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656092)

Maybe you shouldn't read manuals in the bathroom. In Illuminatus we were all reminded of the Zen proverb "Never whistle while you're pissing"!

I'll print until e-ink is as cheap as paper. (1)

Logger (9214) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656096)

If you've read about the stuff, e-ink (I'm probably wrong about the exact name), when it is readily and cheaply available, I'll stop printing things on paper. E-ink media gives you the freedom, flexibility, and ease of viewing to the eyes that paper does, without the CRT or LCD hassle. Simply put CRT/LCD technology just doesn't stack up to all the advantages that plain-old-paper has. Try folding up the web version of the NY Times when viewing it on your 19" monitor.


Personally, I think its a demographics issue... (1)

tischler (11296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656103)

As the popularity and extensive use of the internet spreads out even more from the prototypical computer geek bunch, this effect will only increase. This is because people who did not grow up staring at a CRT, and feel threatened by, and mistrustful of, computers, are being reuired to use it. There is generally the sentiment by the average technophobe these days, and even people like my father who rely on computers to make their living, that something isn't real until they have hardcopy of it. This will go away over time as the generations of pre-computer-era people are slowly phased out (read that as a nice way of saying die off), but until that point I expect it to only get worse.

And not to be marked as flamebait right away, but does anyone but me miss the days when a linux user inherently was a programmer?

More info, more to print (0)

SwiftOne (11497) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656105)

The problem is two-part. We can spend forever debating about why technology hasn't replaced paper yet (although I understand Xerox has a few neat toys on the horizon). A second point to realize though, is that with the boom of information availability we suddenly have more TO print.

Think: Before the internet penetrated the average household/office, what was there on paper? Newspapers, magazines...couldn't print those. Books, same thing.

Now I can read articles from a hundred different newspapers and magazines online. I can go to Project Gutenberg and download some quality literature. Online documentation exists for everything from how to configure X to building my own solarium.

Certainly some of this material doesn't have a convenient technological method of reading. (try carting a laptop to your back porch so you can read the URL on how to build your own deck). But for the most part people are taking the new information and using it in ways that they are used to.

This is why Xerox and everyone is doing their best to come up with something book-like and/or paper-like in nature....because we'll use it because it is mostly what we are used to.

More info, more to print (1)

SwiftOne (11497) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656106)

The problem is two-part. We can spend forever debating about why technology hasn't replaced paper yet (although I understand Xerox has a few neat toys on the horizon). A second point to realize though, is that with the boom of information availability we suddenly have more TO print.

Think: Before the internet penetrated the average household/office, what was there on paper? Newspapers, magazines...couldn't print those. Books, same thing.

Now I can read articles from a hundred different newspapers and magazines online. I can go to Project Gutenberg and download some quality literature. Online documentation exists for everything from how to configure X to building my own solarium.

Certainly some of this material doesn't have a convenient technological method of reading. (try carting a laptop to your back porch so you can read the URL on how to build your own deck). But for the most part people are taking the new information and using it in ways that they are used to.

This is why Xerox and everyone is doing their best to come up with something book-like and/or paper-like in nature....because we'll use it because it is mostly what we are used to.

Reliability (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656107)

People print like crazy for the following reasons:
  • They cannot rely on the fact that their machine and/or email system will not crash in five minutes
  • The standard resolution of a modern display cannot display a one page document really clear in reasonable size. Try to make Acroread zoom to fit page on a 1024x768 for example.
Overall the mad priniting will continue and there is nothing we can do about it until the average resolution on an end user display will go beyond 1600x1200 and the PC's become more reliable storage than paper.


  • I am skipping any sort of discussion about any legal stuff.
  • Being a rational being myself I skip any sort of discussion about people who invent office data flow that requires you to fill a spreadsheet, print it and than the accouting department to reenter this data again from the printed copy into a computer, and so on, and so on.
There is no way you can stop this kind of killing of trees without fire (to be more exact firing ...)

Re:So much for the paperless office! (2)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656108)

"The paperless office will come soon after the paperless toilet."

Now if only I can remember who said that...

Teach reading on monitors, not paper. (3)

Iesu (12161) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656111)

A year ago I took a course in web design - mostly Shockwave and Flash development, but it started with a basic HTML primer. One of the first things the prof said was that we needed to learn to read text online. My initial reaction was, "God, what is he talking about?" But then during the course labs and while helping classmates, I noticed that when people looked up anything online, be it a taglist or Koch's syllabus, they printed it out. When people were working with their HTML docs they'd print a copy, edit it with a pen, type the changes, print it again, edit it with a pen again...

Just yesterday I had a similar experience. Once again I'm in a Java course for newbies. When we got together to work on an assignment in groups, everybody but me printed out our example code, edited it with a pen...

My hypothesis is that people who are not geeks print things because they learned to read on paper, and paper is the only environment within which they are used to reading - not checking to see if their friend emailed them that mp3 site, but in-depth, immersively reading.

I think this is one of the cultural differences between geeks and nongeeks that causes confusion about UI frequently. People who have the nongeek only-reads-on-paper mindset and have only seen computers with "illiterate" - graphic, metaphoric - interfaces do not grok CLIs like *NIX in the sense that they can't even understand why you would want a computer that you have to read to use.

Teach reading with a hypertext of Dick and Jane and see what happens.

Good timing on this story (2)

finkployd (12902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656114)

I just finished printing a 74,000 page document that will probably never be read by ANYONE. It's just 9 boxes to collect dust in Penn State's basement :)


My Take (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656115)

Paper will never crash or lock up. I can read a stack of papers in the bath-tub. I can print out the exact order in which I need to update files while I do repeated reboots. Paper is surge and blackout proof. In an emergency I can use the corners of a paper to clean steak particles from my teeth or dust from under my fingernails.

I've never folded a monitor into a hella cool airplane.

I get most of my daily information ration from what I see onscreen, but the important or amusing things that I see, I print out. You can't tack a monitor up to the wall.You can't slip a monitor under the boss' desk or onto a co-workers desk when nobody is looking so that you can stealthily pass the buck.

It'll be a LONG time before we all work in paperless offices.


Hemp? (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656116)

Oh, but that would Send The Wrong Message To Kids ... that environmental concerns and long-term social and economic benefits outweigh political opportunism and short-term economic advantages for entrenched interests.

Can't have them thinking that, can we?

hard to beat the convenience of paper (2)

jetson123 (13128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656118)

It's pretty hard to beat the convenience of paper. It's not only that it's lightweight, high contrast, and durable. Paper is also cheap to produce, cheap to print on, and easy to dispose of. It works without batteries, and it works everywhere. It can't break, and it works in a huge range of temperatures and environmental conditions (much wider than most portable electronics). There is very little cost associated with giving a piece of paper to someone else. And it's easy to understand how to destroy the human readable information on paper (fingerprints, digital watermarks, DNA, etc., of course, is much more difficult to destroy).

Even if you met the convenience and durability of paper with an electronic product, you still have to face the problem that the electronic product is expensive. Would you take a $1000 rollup electronic newspaper with you everywhere?

Paper can be produced more cheaply and more environmentally friendly from renewable resources. One of the primary ones would be (drug free) hemp.

Electronic Paper (2)

Clark (13670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656119)

In the book "When Things Start to Think", one of the things the author, a proffesor in MIT's media lab, discusses Electronic Paper. His idea, and I think it is a good one, is that that paper technology, although old, still good. It is very portable, can be read from any angle and in various lighting conditions. Instead of getting rid of paper, he says, we should improve it. They are developing Electronic Paper. A sheet of paper will be covered in "toner", that is really a tiny capsule that contains two even smaller particles, a white one and a black one. When exposed to a magnetic field, the paricles flip, displaying either back or white. When something like this comes out, I think it could really change the way we use paper.

Why is printing so popular? (2)

superf1y (16522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656130)

While I agree with the above statement, I also would point out that many people see paper as proof... or perhaps something to hold on to.

Perhaps some just feel that having a stack of paper on your desk *shows* that you are working, and have produced. If everything was confined to the digital insides of their machines, no one would see how much they have done/are doing. It is a silly notion, but I would bet there is a great deal of truth to it.

Uphill battle (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656139)

I have to agree with the author. About 18 months ago, we acquired a new CEO that is EXTREMELY technology oriented. One of his main goals is a totally paperless office. He refuses to accept anything on paper that could be given to him electronically. And while this attitude is virtually required to push the rest of the company, it's like pulling teeth. I (as the network admin) continue to see more and more paper wasted, especially now that my users have access to the WWW via our new T-1.

So what's the answer? How do we get people to stop printing things that don't need to be printed? I'm not talking about things that are easier to work with when printed, I'm talking about endless two-line emails et. al. that get glanced at then deleted (and printed, of course, so you have a hard copy for archives...)

My CEO has the right idea, but I think constant education on things like how to sort and file e-documents and how to find them later on is a requirement. I just don't see companies putting a lot of emphesis on training (especially something low-priority like this).

Source Code Printouts (2)

Arandir (19206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656145)

Back in the days of the dinosaurs, when I was learning to program on Unix Vaxen, a single print page cost 1 cent from my account, which was still cheaper than staying logged on for hours wading through the code. So I always printed everything out, logged off, and spent those hours of wading in the student lounge.

I am trying to get out of this habit but it's hard. One thing that helps is a larger monitor, multiple windows, and a decent class browser. However, it's still nice to take the stack of dead trees and a red pen and go over them in the park under a live tree with the sun shining.

Yet more convenience arguements (1)

Mur! (19589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656147)

Personally, I usually print out papers, projects, etc. that I'm writing for editing purposes. I find it harder on my eyes to read a computer monitor than a sheet of printed paper, and it's *far* easier to make editorial notes in the margins/line spacing when you're writing by hand. Erasing is still faster than backspacing (for me), and changing your mind is easier than having to cut and paste six or eight times.

When I've read through and edited things, then I go back and change them in the word processor. And print it out again, and go on from there. Editing is *far* easier on a hard copy than on a computer screen. Now, if I could make scribbles in the margins with a touch-sensitive screen and a pen, then *maybe* i'll stop doing that. But heck, it's only been the last few years that I actually can *compose* on a computer. Up until that point, I wrote everything long-hand first, then typed it, then went back to step A above in editing. So I'm saving *some* trees, at least.

Another note: when you're doing library searches, it's difficult to haul the monitor down the aisles with you. The librarians get upset if you mess too much with their computers, and the monitor cables aren't long enough anyway.

Paper Killer (1)

LordStrange (19871) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656148)

The reason people print is bcause current monitors are hard on the eye. The only thing that will kill paper is super-high resolution (1200+ dpi) reflective monitors. Reflective like E ink and other products that have a long way to go.

Of course these monitors must be touch sensitive, largeish (>=8.5"x11") conveiniently portable, and durable.

Then again, even this hypothetical technological marvel may fail to kill printers. I just printed off a web page so I could turn my head instead of hitting alt-tab while editing JS for that page ;)

I can't take my CRT to the can (1)

lythander (21981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656155)

or write on it, or stick it in my bag to take home. If Xerox can get me the paper from "The Diamond Age," I'll quit printing.

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656156)

You have a point, even though I'm sure we will be moderated into flame bait hell. All the paper that us used in the US comes from tree farms that are grown. The paper industry doesn't go around cutting down acres of undesturbes forest (that territory is for the shopping malls to go). Personally from what I've read though, its the disposal of paper that is the problem. Throw it away, the paper easily decomposes, but the ink doesn't. Recycle, the process or cleaning the ink from the old paper is as dangerous to the environment as any other option. I just sounds a lot better :)

Reasons why paper is good (1)

hugg (22953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656157)

Paper doesn't crash.
It's light and portable.
It's easily annotated.
When there's more light in the room, it gets easier to read.
It doesn't need recharging.
You don't need MS Word to view it.
You can pass out copies to your friends.

It's hard to grep paper.

I print for 2 reasons (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656164)

1) Paper is portable. For instance, if I am working on Machine A and the docs are on Machine B, I print them out and carry them over to A. Now that I have a Pilot this is already lessening. If/when I upgrade to something with more mem (not to mention buy another cradle) I may be able to stop this altogether.

2) Paper is proof. People are not comfortable saving, say, an email for later proof that they were told to do something. This is especially the case in the Windows world with it's a) less computer-savvy users and b) tendency to crash and lose files.


Excuses (2)

SheldonYoung (25077) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656166)

There are definitely times that paper is the bes way to go, such as reading a book by the lake. However, there is NO reason to justify the huge quantities of paper that is being consumed.

As a case in point, there is at least one or two people in our office that just live in the print room. They print thick stacks of paper that I know they never really look at. Then why do they do it? Because paper is tactile. For people who grew up with paper rather than keyboards having paper the feel of paper is important - it makes them feel like they are accomplishing something.

The reason there is more of it now is simple, technology has given us more information and the ability to process it faster. More information means more paper.

And not just to copy the same old information like it use to be, now they can print and generate NEW information. It's heaven for those addicted to the substance.

Paper, like the post office, will slowly disappear. Give it a couple of generations.

Easier on the eyes - light bulb (2)

RovingSlug (26517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656170)

I would like to expound on your point that paper is easier on the eyes. Many in this discussion have pointed out paper has much better resolution than a monitor, and this is very true.

Just as important is that looking at a monitor all day is like looking straight into a light bulb all day.

It's only natural to not want to look straight at things that produce light. Our bodies aren't designed for it, and it's psychologically against our nature. That is, our evolutionary ancestors that enjoyed looking into the sun didn't hang around long enough to reproduce.

Why Paper? (2)

scotpurl (28825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656184)

Simple answer. Monitors are pathetic. Despite getting down to .22 dot pitch, they are still nowhere near as crisp and as sharp as the "old" 300 DPI printers.

It's also the paradigm of work. Think of each screen on a computer as one sheet of paper. (You folks out there with giganto monitors, multiple monitors, or virtual desktops will comment that your workspace is bigger than one sheet of paper, but we're talking about the average user.) On the average desk, you can easily arrange 8 sheets of paper to work with. Writing on one, scribbling on another, and referencing the other 6 (3 open books?) is quite easy. Now, on the average 17" monitor, try reading one thing, and referencing another. The programs don't tile/cascade well while retaining their GUI (meaning the workspace-to-toolbar ratio changes).

The modern monitor is metaphorically the old one-room-schoolhouse slate board. You do something on it, erase it, then do something else. Except that it is required to be your source of information, not just your information input.

Until we get wraparound, gigantic, 300 DPI monitors with four times the area we have now, people will continue to print things out.

Re:Hmm... (1)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656185)

Seriously, it's a fact of life. Paper will not disappear. Can you hastily scribble something on even a Palm Pilot? Well, you got to boot it up first. Paper doesn't need to go through a boot-up sequence.

How long does your palm pilot take to boot up? Mine's instantaneous, bar the reminder alarms hanging around...

Obviously, printing out of documents and emails is a frivolous waste; what I don't understand is why some online applications (eg for bank accounts) also require a printed & signed paper copy to be sent back - won't a PGP-siged PNG image of my signature suffice?

Life cycle of paper where I work (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656187)

delivered by the pallet
passes through an expensive printer
hourly worker breaks it apart
another hourly worker takes it to the "wheels"
"wheels" do what they do with it
hourly worker shreds it

I hate paper

Paper. (2)

Matt2000 (29624) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656188)

Printed material is easier on the eyes, the contrast is better, its more portable and you can leave it somewhere and not worry about it.

Until we get some digital replacements that can meet these requirements, there will still be uses for printed material. []

Justification: Lack of screen real estate. (1)

chicmome (31057) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656191)

I have a 17" monitor running at 1152x764. When I open up a couple coding windows and three or four xterms. There's not enough room on the screen for specs, tutorials, examples, etc. Until I have a dual head setup printing is a viable solution.

Re:Can't take a screen to the bathroom (1)

Electric Mollusk (34199) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656202)

That's interesting. Personally, I don't seem to have much trouble with information on a screen rather than on paper. As a matter of fact, it's been so long for me that I actually had to borrow real paper from my friend yesterday when my German professor wanted an essay turned in (perish the thought!). The main reason I can see to use printed copies is so you don't have to waste your money on a crummy laptop.


Starnge.. (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656207)

I was just ponmdering this the other day while helping someone with a web-based homework problem. When I had them, I just did it and turned it in without printing, but a lot of people insist on printing them out to look at them before they have a clue as to how it works. Based on my observations of the people who tend to do it these ways, is that the people who dislike or have ny sort of computer phobia tend to believe that any problem is ten times harder if it is on a screen on not on paper. On my 19", when people print, the paper is actually smaller, and they don't even need to write on the paper, they just need the paper to read.. It seems really odd to me... I understand sometimes it helps you to scribble stuff on scrap paper, but having to read the original information off of paper seems extreme.

simple. (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656208)

If its on paper, its easier to read and reference. Also resolution is great and you can *ahem* pee and read at the same time.

When will the print queue come griding to a halt? (1)

mgreenwood (37032) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656211)

Why do people still buy newspapers when there's a plethora available online. Why do people still buy books?
I believe there's still this generation/or perhaps just a majority of users who grew up learning that the cutting edge means getting paper cuts from "information technologies".

I don't believe people see computers as information appliances, or toaster's with brains. The conventional computer is still a complicated type writer. The product of thousands of keystrokes is a paper copy of that work. Eventually paper needs and is required to come shooting out the other end. We're still a paper based society, and I fear the only way that might change that is through higher paper costs or fewer printers. The last time I checked printers were still on sale, because they were cheaper and easier to use than any PDA currently on the market.


Printing is free (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656212)

When you're at work it's even more free than at home - you don't have to pay for it! Face it, you buy a computer these days, and you get a printer with it; to print letters or have a medium you can take with you. Once you have it, you might as well use it.

I would LOVE to see an expose' on how much money is actually wasted on paper, and then to see companies take it seriously - but all the printing products just get cheaper anyway, so I doubt it will happen.

I'm looking forward to EPaper. I'd love to store many pages on something flimsy that I could take with me... I think EPaper will finally help solve the printing crisis.

Things scan better with paper (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656219)

It's the real thing. You can doodle on it, highlight it, add information to it, cross out things, indicate where revisions go, use different colors.

And, best of all, it has no spellchecker or grammatical software to tell you that you're a doofus. It doesn't care if you like to write in French with an Arabic twist. You can cut it in pieces.

And, no matter what you say, if it's printed then it's more real than if it's electronic. Who knows where those electrons came from? But we hewed the tree with our bare hands and mushed it in chemical soup before spreading it out on giant rollers. It has substance. It can be abused. If you roll it, you can abuse substances.

And, thanks to Peter Maxx, you can throw it at people.

Hmm... (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656231)

What, Ask Slashdot has begun taking submissions for rhetorical questions? :)

Seriously, it's a fact of life. Paper will not disappear. Can you hastily scribble something on even a Palm Pilot? Well, you got to boot it up first. Paper doesn't need to go through a boot-up sequence.

Are you afraid paper will crash? It's easier to keep a piece of paper going (say, keep it out of your pocket jeans before doing the laundry :) ) than to make sure your data will not be lost in some freak accident.

Paper has been used for centuries, because it's simple, convenient, cheap and practical. Why would you expect it to disappear?

What paper doesn't do, however, is where electronic media come in: you can't transmit paper over long distances quickly (well, there's Fax, but who uses that old junk when you can just make an attachment?); you can't carry a whole lot of information on paper conveniently; you can't share projects by constantly rewriting paper.

It's easy to go all Star Trek on everyone, and expect that age-old technologies will disappear. These technologies were discovered early on because they're universal, simple and practical. But I bet you that no matter where we get to in a thousand years, a few things will remain basically unchanged: beer, paper, the wheel and goood old fire.

Might as well ask why fire is still used in the age when we have electrical heating... :)

"There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

Re:Good timing on this story (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656232)

Good lord. You must have murdered a few trees just by yourself. :) Pray tell, what matter of document has 74,000 pages?

"There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

Another argument in favour of paper (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656233)

What other technology / file format can you use both to store written data and to start a fire? :)

"There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

Re:Hmm... (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656234)

Hey, don't gramp me, kid. :)

You're right, I don't use a Palm Pilot. It's a very cool toy, but I can't afford it. Still, you have to, I dunno, push a button and launch the proper application. Paper is -there-. Little Post-it notes can be left lying next to the telephone along with a pen.

You try doing that with a Palm Pilot and someone will steal it. And you can't have numerous Palm Pilots around the house. And you don't have to pay a few hundred dollars for paper.

"There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

erm... what about this? (1)

Machupo (59568) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656242)

what about the Ken Starr report?

Human's need for static information (1)

tsetem (59788) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656244)

I seem to recall from an article back in X-Mas (I think SJ Mercury News, but not sure) about this.
The idea presented is generally that Human's can remember information easier if it is in a static form. ie: The information is halfway down on page 15.

Seems that the scroll bars aren't static enough for most people.

On the converse side of things, if electronic-ink takes off, I would think this may reduce the paper consumption. Why? Well if you have a book of e-ink, the words & data should all show up on the same location of the page you are looking for. (At least that's my theory)

I hope we will find out before we run out of trees.

Oh, and no, I'm not no stinking tree-hugging hippie, I'd just rather walk through a forest instead of a parking lot.

Electronic Paper (1)

el_ted (61073) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656247)

There exists an electronic paper that can display (inked) pixels, just like you would view on a normal paper, it is not light irradiation. I think it works by flipping small balls that have one side painted in black and other side painted in white.

If this enters mainstream, you would never bother to print something... just take it with you to the toilet and plug to your e-books or palms...

paper products (1)

z84976 (64186) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656252)

I don't mean to trivialize the topic or anything, but until I can CONVENIENTLY grab a clipboard-or-similar-type device and take it with me to the bathroom, we're still going to have paper. Even then, there are other paper products in that room that come in really handy, too.

paper-like technology soon? (1)

Aigeanta (64880) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656253)

A couple years ago my friends and I were getting progressively more hyper while drinking pots of hot chai, and we decided to invent a display that had the easy-reading qualities of paper, such as being solid-state, reflective rather than projective, and all-angle viewable. What we came up with was essentially a Magna-Doodle on speed. Little cells filled with an opaque background fluid would be polarized a certain degree and a certain density of metallic particles would be drawn to the top of the cell, showing up against the jelly medium. When I researched our idea on the net, I found that of course it had been thought up of a while ago by some famous inventor. We also thought there could be a color version, if only the proper RGB magnetic flecks existed...

I've seen e-Books and of course the Palm, but LCD is just too hard to read in comparison with good 'ol paper, so I wanted to know if anyone has seen a similar device in use anywhere, or knows of any companies developing such a device. I guess it would probably be Xerox, right?

something to hold on to (1)

asad (65703) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656258)

I admit I am guilty of this crime, there has been many a time that I printed a tutorial from some online website. I guess my main reason would be that I didn't want to keep an open web browser and have to keep on flipping between a web browser and the whindow in which I was working. But my younger cousins don't seem to have any such problems. Maybe it's because I grew up with printed books, I think as time goes on the whole printing thing will stop.

Paper is more durable (1)

q2k (67077) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656260)

What is the expected life of data on a floppy? Of data on a CD? How do we know that even if the data still exists in 500 years that we will have the technology to read it? BAckwards compatibility for centuries old technolgy certainly isn't a given.

Now, think about paper. The dead sea scrolls are what, about 2000 years old and still very readable. The language may change, but the transer medium, paper (or stone) to the human eye, is backwards compatible to at least 10,000 years or so if start counting with the various prehistoric man cave drawings that have been found...

Can't take a screen to the bathroom (3)

zot o'connor (67493) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656262)

When it comes down to it, you can't take your monitor with you. Just yesterday I was tempted to print a manual pdf file, becuase I could not get the jist in my head. Reading on paper is a different mental process than on screen. The sad thing is I have the manual "somewhere."

And more than once I have printed a manual to take it away so I can read it "away from the situation."

Oh and I have taking my laptop to the John with me, its a bit dangewoues/

1) It might get wet (or worse).
2) You legs fall asleep after 1 hours of solataire.
And I am hyper about recycling and reducing paper usage.

Advanced PDAs (1)

LordOmar (68037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656263)

I was discussing this trend with a friend of mine who lives in Japan. He does nearly all of his work through his PDA and Laptop. I think part of the problem here is PDA stadardiazation and affordability. Paper is easily transferred from one hand to the other for a very low cost, and, (let's face it) it's just convenient. Until PDA's become more common and can all talk to one another I think that we'll still be seeing a lot of papers around the office. Besides a binder is a lot easier for me to lug aroun then my laptop, palm-V, docking port and cell phone. Give me convenience or give me death.

Tree loss (1)

john82 (68332) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656265)

It's very distressing to consider the vast quantity of paper that is used for mere hours or, at best, days. To support such wasteful habits, we cut down trees that have been growing for years and comsume additional biomass to generate the energy needed for processing.

Perhaps technology will one day reduce the daily reliance on paper for print needs. E-ink and the like come to mind. Unfortunately, I think we are a very long way from witnessing such a radical shift from hardcopy to "e-copy". We need a change of mindset as much as anything else. In the mean time, I try to think before printing and then use a utility to print multiple pages of output on a single page. Which, now that I think about it, begs the question. I know of such print utilities for Macs and PCs, is there something for Linux?

Spread the info (1)

DanMcS (68838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656266)

Fact is, if I want to show something to a coworker, it's easier to print it out (assuming it is small), walk down there, and discuss it, than to forward them the file, open ICQ, discuss a paragraph that they may or may not be looking at, and hope they understand. The physical-ness of the paper makes it easier to get my point across.
Paper is just way more useful. If I want to jot down a phone number, all I need is a pen and a second. But to do the same thing on my computer, I have to get a text editor running to open the proper file, type it in, and save, then find it again later when I need it, whereas that post-it is still stuck to my monitor staring me in the face.
I think anyone that prints out email or webpages needs to be punished, though. It reminds me of an old Dilbert:
Boss: "Send me two copies so I can print them out."
Dilbert: "But it's an email... never mind, I'll do it."

Use environmentally friendly paper (2)

razzmataz (69616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656267)

Since people like to print stuff, because it's handy (I can't quite take the PC into the bathroom and read something), people will keep on printing.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact, try using recycled printer paper. Advocate the use of recycled paper. Write your gub'ment representatives and tell them to at least legalize the farming of hemp for paper production (the process to make paper out of hemp is far better for the environment than making paper out of trees. Of course, it will be the THC-less hemp though...).

Re:We will ALWAYS need paper. (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656274)

Technology has already replaced the written contract. Almost all contracts include a 'photocopy' clause, which basically says that for all legal matters requiring the original signed contract, a photocopy/scan/faxsimile will be judged original. At my company, as soon as the contract is signed it is sent to be scanned, indexed and added to the database of thousands of others. The original is destroyed, no longer being needed.

A recent conversation. (3)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656275)

One of the people I work with, a woman in her late forties, has the horrible habit of tying up the printer first thing every morning. (So badly, in fact, we ended up installing a personal printer for her.) On the way past her desk recently, I asked her what was so darn important it had to be printed every morning. 'Oh, I print my email.' was her response. I asked why. 'Well, if the message was kind of important, I file it. If it has something in it I have to do later, I fold it up and stick it to my calander with a push-pin. If its something I want my secretary to handle, I'll stick it in her 'in-basket'.' My jaw dropped. I told her 'You know, you can forward the relevant messages to your secretary, put the 'important' ones in their own mailbox, and drag the time-sensitive ones right into your scheduler! I'd bet it would take you a lot less time, and it would certainly kill fewer trees!' She looked at me with an evil glare. 'Listen, hon. I've had my system for mail for almost twenty years, and I'm not going to change it just because it doesn't come pre-printed anymore.'

Re:Because (1)

castor (73833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656277)

You can grab a pen and mark,underline, or scribble on the printout.

Also, the information printed on paper can outlast the expected magnetic media lifetime by at least one order of magnitude.

tech fears (1)

csean (77908) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656280)

people scared of losing info they can't touch.

Re:Hip New Media? (1)

csean (77908) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656281)

wasn't that Guettenberg?

books (1)

silph (78282) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656286)

but the feeling of a hefty paperback in one hand while youre drinking your coffee is just so pleasant. a flap of plastic that you scroll through cant replace it

Nuthin' like paper. (1)

Panamon777 (78286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656287)

A roll up monitor might be nifty, but it will take years and years for technology to yield something as useful and practical as a piece of paper.

A sheet of paper has infinite resolution, is virtually weightless, is double sided, can be highlighted, bent, folded, creased, crumpled up into a ball, and erased. Nothing computerized can come close to the practicality of paper. Also, two sheets of paper can be laid side by side, and can be used to make comparisons. In order to do so on a computer, it is necessary to get a second monitor, or shrink the size of the pages. Shrinking pages often makes text unreadable.

As for printing everything, many people probably don't realize how wasteful they are being. At my college, each student gets 110 pages for free each semester. After that they cost money. Having that limit really makes people count what they are printing, and most people print everything but final drafts on both sides of the page.

Not to mention how much easier it is to read text off a page. Ever try reading a book online? It's damn near impossible.

Reasons to print things out: (1)

TheKodiak (79167) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656290)

Reasons I print things out:

1) To read them where I don't have a computer - often the toilet. Although at home, I have a laptop, so that's not so much an issue.

2) To give them to people who don't have internet access.

3) To deal with a document which is extremely self-similar. I often find, when reading someone else's code, that I need physical cues to be able to keep my place in the document. The scroll bar isn't as strong a cue as a real location on a real page.

4) Computer monitors still not as easy on the eyes as laser-printed text.

Reasons other people I know print things out:

1) Hard drive too poorly organized to find something which is just saved to disk.

2) Navigating Microsoft Outlook too difficult - must print all e-mail and immediately delete it before finding out that the shared printer is offline and all the printed e-mail has been lost forever.

Why do I print more now than I used to? The dot matrix printer made too much noise and took too long. And I have more information available online.

Mark-up is easier, too... (1)

TheKodiak (79167) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656291)

It's much easier to write in the margins and in between the lines on paper for most people, as well. If you just need to correct the document, it's easier to do it all on the computer, but if you need to suggest changes to someone else, especially if there are layout elements, the quickest way is to print it out and get out the red pen.

"On page 3, paragraph 2, the 3d sentence is too wordy."

Because (3)

Jupiter2 (83436) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656298)

1. Reading from paper is easier on the eyes. (In my case anyhow)

2. You can take it anywhere. Read it outside in the sunshine, or even in bed.

3. People feel safer with a hard copy than just having a file on a computer which could easily be trashed if they are not competant users.

We will ALWAYS need paper. (1)

Cobol^GOD (87046) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656307)

So WHAT if people are printing more...
Trees ARE a renewable resource :)

Technology will never totally replace a written contract.

My Theory -- People prefer to read printed stuff (1)

Stephen VanDahm (88206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656314)

In the old days, people had to physically send printed (or written) documents to people. This is inherently inconvenient, so they didn't send stuff out unless it was pretty important. When in doubt, don't send it. Now that it's so easy just to e-mail a word processor file to someone or post a PDF on the Internet, people post and send stuff much more often, simply because it's easier. So now it's when in doubt, send it, post it, whatever.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't like reading off of computer monitors. Some people complain that it's harder on the eyes. Personally, I think it's easier to proofread a printed copy of a document than to proofread what's on the screen. In the old days, when everything was paper, they had less to read. But now that people are swamped with web pages, PDFs e-mail messages, and so on, the people who'd rather read it on paper have a lot to print out and use a lot of paper to do so.
And computers were supposed to bring us a paper-free office, too.

Take care,


perhaps we don't use that much paper (1)

dantes (89932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656321)

my name is larry, i'm 23 y/o, and i programmed COBOL for two years (i'm not proud of what i did, but it paid the bills) one has seen paper wasted the way it is done in a mainframe shop. everyone in the department literally had reams of paper from the line printer on their desks, sometimes 8-10 feet high.
at least with the apparent shift to online reporting mechanisms (there seems to be a healthy market for web front ends to mainframe systems), the mainframe shops of the future may save a few trees.

So much for the paperless office! (1)

Seth Finkelstein (90154) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656323)

It's amusing to remember that the computer revolution was supposedly going to remove the need for paper at all. How's that for a backfire? - Seth Finkelstein

Re:1st post (0)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656326)

No idea. But he wasn't first either...

Paperless office?! Har har har! (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656327)

I'm an employee in a company which pretends to be a paperless office - I know better then that.
It may be an attractive idea, but it doesn't work. This simply is human. Even the technologically-oriented people sometimes prefer paper.
Who uses 'notepad' to make notes?! I still prefer the real (paper) thing. Another problem is that many people simply don't trust the technology. And it's nicer to read a howto on paper than on your display (unless you have an XLQ-24" Ueber monitor maybe), but I'm not that rich. And even then... you can't take an online-manual with you to read it in -for instance- the train.
The increase in size of the net means an increase of information available, which means an increase in printed paper. It may not be good for the rainforest; it's just Human nature.

The Rise of Technology / The Fall of Trees? (1)

anarchyjoe (94621) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656331)

Check out and select the link on the home page titled: "Electronic Books:..." Lots of good info on the state of the current technology and where it's headed.

Hip New Media? (0)

Apocalypse Coward (95799) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656334)

Back when Guggenheim invented the press, everyone was dying to get their hands on the hip new media. They still are. Chock it up to the stupidity of people and their quest to hold in their hand that which they perceive as valuable.

The reason I have seen (1)

Shadrone (95875) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656335)

Well, the reason I have been given by many end-users is reliabality. Most business systems have a tendency to loose important info every once and a while. I am currently looking into a problem like this. The data seems to have several ways to get lost. Other users changing it, the transaction never really went through, good old data corruption, lack of portabality of a PC, etc. Several people here have palm devices, but those do not interface with the legacy system. I hope one day that there are true paperless offices, but we, the S.A.s must provide complete seemless and accountable systems to provide the end user with the sence of reliabality that they had with paper systems. As of yet, I have not seen a system like this in operation.

Easier to digest information from paper sources? (1)

JonM23 (95890) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656336)

I think in large part it's because it's much easier to read and digest information from a paper source than from computer display.

Paper currently has many advantages over digital information display...
- Higher contrast and much higher resolution, coupled with an infinite refresh rate makes paper a much easier source to read.
- The random access and review capabilities of
paper are much stronger than those of digital content, even with well designed web pages.
- Higher content density. You have much more information on one printed 8.5x11 page than on an 800x600 web window.
- Static content. Paper is static. That makes it good for keeping records (i.e., of online transactions).

And last but not least, you can take a printout of a page to the can, but you can't take yer pc (or if you do, you get really odd looks).

Reflection (1)

fuyuno (95891) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656337)

It's just too straining to read things off of a CRT. LCDs help a little but I think that it all boils down to one thing: Cool Waves (reflected) vs. Hot Waves (luminescent). It's just too straining to read something that's hot. Printed paper is so easy to read because it's all reflected light. That's why we all print this stuff out.

Short life of electronic storage media (1)

InActiveX (95894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1656338)

Recent studies have suggested that only a few decades from now we will already be loosing access to the mountains of data that have been accumulating for the past two decades as business and education and government moved to electronic storage media. Why? 1) Turns out the life span of all those tapes and disks is shorter than envisaged. They lose the charge required to render information available over a relatively short time; 2) Media formats have begun to change so rapidly that you have 20 or more year old tapes, and in some cases, only 10 or so year old tapes and cartridges, for which it is becoming difficult if not impossible to find the hardware to mount and read the media! Ditto for drives. 3) Legal issues still want to see that contract and that evidence in some sort of written form, on paper; 4) When was the last time you cuddled up with a good book? Vs. cuddling up with a good computer to read a novel, or anything for entertainment, in depth digestion of information, etc. For me, cuddling up at my terminal just doesn't get it. Never has, never will, and I am now coming up on 18 years in this profession.
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