Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beginning of the end of paper?

This article in the NY Times has been a topic of some discussion in the hallways at SIS. And, it comes with this cool graphic:

Quoting the article:

After rising steadily in the 1980s and ’90s, worldwide paper consumption per capita has plateaued in recent years. In the richest countries, consumption fell 6 percent from 2000 to 2005, from 531 to 502 pounds a person. The data bolsters the view of experts like Mr. Kahle who say paper is becoming passé.

Businesses like Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard that focus on transforming print documents into digital data are beginning to exploit a largely untapped market.

A paperless world isn’t automatically a boon for the environment, though. While these digital toys reduce dependence on one resource, they increase it on another: energy. Some devices are always plugged in, eating electricity even when not in use, and gobbling huge amounts of power when they are. Others, like digital cameras and laptop computers, use electricity while they are recharging.

And the shift might not happen as fast as some technology gurus predict. The paperless office, which some experts had said would be the norm by the 1990s, has so far failed to materialize. Employees are reckless about printing long e-mail messages, reports and memos, largely because the company picks up the bill for the laser printers, photocopiers, ink and paper.

But at home, where printers are slow, noisy and devour expensive ink cartridges, people are more cautious about hitting the “print” button. What little paper comes into the home — receipts, bills, invitations — can be scanned and then shredded. Filing cabinets can be emptied, the data kept, the paper gone.

So is this a boon for personal archives or not?

1 comment:

Prashant said...

Very interesting. Thanks for posting.