Re: paperless?

Subject: Re: paperless?
From: "Robert W. Jones" <shaka -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 14:49:59 -0800

Paper and electronic must pass the fitness test. Over 2 billion people
are with out computer technology, over 1 billion people can not read or
write, computer technology is not hindered in the world strictly because of
money but also because of education, supporting infastructure (there are
plenty of places on this planet where electric power is in short supply),
custom and yes many governments (who do not want their people to get
their hands on computer technology). A maker of lawn mowers will
not pack a CD-ROM or computer disk with each mower
shipment (the printing costs of a lawn mower user guide is lower than the
cost of making a CD-ROM) because it does not fit his or her customer
needs. I am sure most customers do not own computers or would prefer
a booklet for assembly of said lawn mower. AT&T prefers to use computer
systems for billing because it is cheaper as to cost and more efficent than
a paper based system.

On Mon, 30 Jan 1995 mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM wrote:

> Tom Little writes:
> >Paper is the only medium that doesn't require playback equipment.
> >
> Well, it's not the only medium, but this is a disadvantage for electronic
> text. Please remember, though, that this was in the context of a paperless
> _office_, in which we can assume not much work of any kind will get done
> without power (ie no lights, no phone, no computer...)

> >Hence
> >- it's not subject to technological obsolescence

> Neither is ASCII. When your computer is connected to other computers,
> data _format_ is what matters, not hardware obsolescence.

> >- you don't need to be in a special place to use it

> Not true. You need light, a steady place to rest your hands, freedom of
> vision (ie you're not driving).

> >- you don't need special skills to use it

> You need to be able to read. Which means you better not be blind.

> >- it can be passed from person to person without worry

> Except, of course, that two days after you give them a copy it's out of date,
> and you have to print out another copy and mail it to them (expensive and
> slow). If you just give them read access to the electronic source, this
> problem disappears.

> So: yes, electronic text requires playback hardware, and energy to power the
> hardware. However, it allows for playback by a larger number of people, in
> a larger number of situations and with differing backgrounds and capabilities
> (with speech synthesis, for example, you don't need to be able to read to
> have access to a document); it is more portable, more updateable, more
> searchable; in the context of an interconnected, computerized office, I think
> paper use is definitely heading downwards. I think the same thing will
> happen with the rest of the world, gradually, as computers become a common
> household item, and interconnectivity becomes the accepted norm.

> Michael Priestley
> mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
> Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's.

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