Paperless Office? Bwahahahaha!

Today, I have everything I need on my computer, and so do most working scientists as well. Papers can be found online because journals are online (and more and more are Open Access). Protocols are online. Books are online. Writing and collaboration tools are online. Communication tools are online. Data collection and data analysis and data graphing and paper-writing tools are all on the computer. No need for having any paper in the office, right? Right.
But remember how new that all is. The pictures (under the fold, the t-shirt is of Acrocanthosaurus at the NC Museum of Natural Science) of my old office are only five years old! You know I am a Web junkie. If I could have survived without paper, I would have ditched it all. But I could not (and the pictures show only half of the office – there were two large file cabinets full of reprints behind the photographer – my brother – and much, much more, plus more in the lab itself):


7 responses to “Paperless Office? Bwahahahaha!

  1. haha! In 1998, I took human computer interaction at the university of utah. One day we discussed the ‘paperless office’. One student turned up a few scientific studies that attempted to answer the question of whether then-extant office software (not just MS office, but office software in general) actually reduced uses of paper. In fact, all 3 of the studies found substantially increased uses of paper in offices which used office software. Seems nothing has changed.

  2. haha indeed.
    Wot, no can of Coke in these photos though??? Mazing.

  3. Can? That’s too small for me. Bottle!
    Must have put it in the fridge (the little brown box behind me in the pics) for the “picture time”!

  4. I’m not sure you’re looking at the right sort of environment. A researcher’s office is not the target of the “paperless office”, rather it is what we now refer to as “call centers” or “the back office” ie. where transaction processing occurs.
    In those areas the paperless office is real, and it doesn’t rely on MS Office (or at least not much)
    Calll centers have “transactionalized” the relationship b/n customer and business to the point where there truly is no paper. In the back office, many processes have had paper reduced to the point where it is now only needed for regulatuory purposes (whether acccounting, financial reporting, whatever).
    There has been considerable success in those areas — in fact I worked on a system 20 years ago that was very successful, reducing paper to simply the documents that customers supplied and also reducing staff by around 30%. So much so, that a.) the customer took the staff reductions in advance of system introduction, and b.) were so satisfied they ported it 2 years later – unchanged – to a new platform. All on IBM mainframes, no PC”s or Windows involved.
    Nowadays we use web servers – think how many business’s supply paper manuals to their customers these days, not many.
    But that was in a transactional business environment. The research process is much more focussed on comprehension which is much reduced (I’ve seen figures suggesting aroung 40%) if on-screen vs. on-paper.
    In short, anyone who simply adopts MS Office to produce more paper faster and introduces it without assessing the process itself deserves what they get – more paper.
    Others who address the process itself reap benefits. (Again research is not a good example of such a process).

  5. My paperless office looks a lot like your paperless office, but less organized.

  6. George Dimopoulos provides an updated aspect of paperless work- and lifestyles in his new book “Paperless Joy”. The impact of the paperless trend on the environment, human relations, business and global development is addressed along with a comprehensive practical guide on how to go paperless. see:
    there is also a link there to his paperless office.

  7. I like this blog creation.