Paperless, It will never go away

Subject: Paperless, It will never go away
From: David Dubin <David_Dubin -at- NOTES -dot- PW -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 1995 12:19:13 PST

After reading Paul Sawyer's comments on Dr. Davidson's paperless philosophy,
I felt compelled to add my own thoughts to the discussion. While both had
solid viewpoints, I too believe that we will never be a paperless society for
several reasons.

1. Contracts were around two thousand years before the Magna Carta. They
were written in clay tablets or on papyrus or sheepskin and were signed by
either a signature (mark) or by the seal of the contractors. A simple
handshake was OK for simple country folk (such as I), but not for any real
commercial venture. An original signature cannot be replaced by an electronic
one in our legal system because of the ability to electronically forge/alter
anyone's signature.

2. Paper is, in my opinion, definitely more permanent than an electronic
means. I collect books and have many old ones, some of which are from the
sixteenth century and I know people who have religious documents from the
third and fourth. These documents are old, but not yellowed and withered,
and, although they will burn, so will diskettes, hard drives, and tapes. When
have you ever heard of electromagnetic pulses (from microwaves, radio and
telephone speakers, magnets, high voltage lines, etc.) causing a paper
document to corrupt? Have you ever left a diskette in your car, in July,
alongside your newspaper? Which one could you access an hour later? We
humans are an enigmatic race, but we are a race that needs to know and
explore. What size keypad do you need with space gloves on? I know that a
regular sized pen/pencil can be handled by scientists in a space suit. And
yes, audio tapes have the same failings as diskettes and tapes; besides, they
all need electricity to work, paper doesn't.

3. Dr Davidson is correct in his statement that paper is the medium upon
which we learn. Having been a teacher and trainer for 20+ years, I can vouch
for the fact that children the world over will always be taught to read and
write on paper. How else are they to learn how to *write* the alphabet, to
physically create the letters? Yes, one can teach adults and even
adolescents in a virtual paperless environment, but that is only because the
skills that are required to learn new subjects was taught on paper first.
Come on, which can you more easily picture: kids in middle school slipping
diskettes to each other in class or slipping notes to each other?

4. Finally, if you accept that we are trained to read and to write on
paper, then you know that our primary orientation to reading is in portrait
format, the format of books, not the format of the computer screen. On a page
one can glance from top to bottom while still seeing all of the information,
bullets, etc, on the single page. Even though I can view a full page on my
20inch monitor, the font is so small, I have trouble reading and
understanding it. Most surveys show that it is easier to read a printed page
than a computer screen, and with greater retention. If you don't believe
this, how many times did you have to scroll to get here?????

david dubin
This has been one man's opinon, yours may vary with mileage, age, or
disposition.


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