Mar 21, 2010

Paperless Office: It's All In Your Mind

A recent story on Slashdot talks about What is Holding back the Paperless Office? As I read through the comments I couldn't help thinking one thing: It's all in your mind. People talked about having to spread out documents on the conference table and distributing documents to the group for markup. Why can't they just bring up a copy on the laptop/netbook that everyone seems to carry to every meeting without ever using? Once people get past the mentality of having to hold onto a piece of paper we will have the paperless office.

Another person spoke about having to be able to put thoughts down on paper and how a computer would never take the place of quick drawings. There are existing tools that allow this to happen and they are improving every day. In fact, drawing or taking notes on a netbook or tablet PC is actually better in a lot of ways. How many of these drawings have you lost over the yeas? How many times have you thought, "Oh crap, where did I put that little piece of paper?" If you just train yourself to do this on your fancy netbook it wouldn't be an issue. And we would be another step closer to the paperless office.

Training people to use their minds differently isn't an easy thing to do. Old habits die hard. Especially when the new way of doing things isn't obvious. Modern office practices have been around for hundreds of years. Computers have been on the scene for just a few. It's only a matter of time but before long the only thing paper will be used for is art.