John Horvath on Tue, 9 Apr 2002 08:54:04 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the paper trail

Just a short note to Malcom Gladwell's excellent piece on the Social Life
of Paper. The increase in paper use is not only because of its continued
usefulness in our everyday lives, but contrary to the hype of computers
saving the trees, computer technology also *encourages* the wasteful use
of paper.

There are two reasons for this. The first is because of the ease with
which copies of a document can be printed out, people are more apt to
reprint drafts than make corrections directly on them. Many don't take
advantage of print preview features, instead seeing how something looks
after it has been printed out, making their adjustments or corrections,
and then printing out another version. Often, when it's not the entire
document but just a couple of pages, they still reprint the whole document
anyway. This is especially so for corrected pages which are not in a

Yet it's not just laziness on the part of users. Some of the problem is on
the software side of things. A lot of times, even when print preview
functions are used, what you see is not always what you get.

Thus, while the hype of the "digital era" may sound appealing, in practice
it can never become a reality. As the old saying goes, it's not just a
question of technology, but how it's used.


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