I like paper, and I don't care if some think it is wasteful.
I like reading without a screen.
I like the feel in my hands.
It does not require batteries or electricity.
I can doodle and jot in the margins.
It spreads out on my work table as a kind of personal caching system.
It degrades gracefully, unlike a most digital file formats.
I would encourage anyone interested to find a copy of "The Myth of the Paperless office" by Abagail Sellen and Richard Harper  (No affiliate link below)
 - http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Paperless-Office-Abigail-Sellen/d...
That said, I'm personally transitioning to mostly paperless for purely pragmatic reasons. I can't keep my papers organized, and I no longer want to be bothered to constantly store and move them. It doesn't help that I save a bunch of papers "just in case" that I end up never needing again.
I think I would be better off with a scanner and digital backups for everything. If I really need the information in paper format, I can just print it on-demand and not have drawers, folders, or bins lying around. Getting rid of all my old papers even has the added benefit of making every paper I do have that much more recent and important, which will (hopefully) lead to it being dealt with more promptly and efficiently rather than getting lost in some pile on my desk.
That said, I'm certainly not joining this. I'll reconsider when my plan eventually blows up in my face.
What appears to be happening is a fusion of both paper and digital as a best practice. Important information is recorded digitally because it is fast and convenient, and also recorded in analogue, on paper, to leave a legal trail and backup for when the electronic systems go down (and they do go down).
(disclosure: I'm a cofounder of GetDimples.com, maker of ink-saving software and fonts.)
To me, paper is frictionless. I can focus on capturing my thoughts without getting distracted or sidetracked. When reading from paper, I can write in the margin. When I've got a lot of thoughts, I flip over the page and write or draw on the back. It's great.
I've got a stack of scrap paper (old one-sided print outs) that I use, so I feel less guilt about the 'waste'.
I can't solve a hard problem without paper. Writing words, drawing lines, making physical connections makes the ideas flow for me.
It isn't wasteful though. Paper is a renewable resource and is mostly biodegradable. Forest growth in the U.S. increases every year due to people using wood for things.
It is good.
Whois information for paperless2013.org:
Admin Name:Neal OMara
Admin City:San Francisco
Admin Postal Code:94109
We're also proud that while this was originally our idea, we've found great partners who agree this is a worthwhile cause: Google, Fujitsu, Manilla, Expensify and Xero
Where is the evidence to help me decide whether this pledge is worthwhile?
Is paper production a major polluter, and does it impact deforestation (I remember reading somewhere a while back that a lot of paper comes from managed woodland)?
If I replace my paper with these services (assuming a lot of others do too) am I contributing a meaningful carbon footprint?
I'm not saying this is a bad pledge, or one I won't take. But it seems to assume very readily that we agree using the internet instead of paper is a GOOD THING, without backing it up...
For me a major driving factor to digitization of "paperwork" is searchability. I don't know about you, but if I want to find some relevant hard copy that I don't know where it is exactly, it requires a non-insignificant amount of time to find. I have started scanning and OCR'ing things, in an attempt to make that process much quicker/easier.
I can see the evidence to help me decide by literally looking at the window.
That said, the cloud version of digitizing is probably among the better cases, because you can aggregate even low-usage users. Home electronics like ebooks readers are probably a better skeptical case: my guess is that the disposal cycle for ebook readers is fast enough to negate the environmental benefits of less ink/paper use.
Thanks both for the info!
The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Multiply that by the working population and that's an enormous footprint. The unfortunate part is that using that much paper is completely unnecessary, as there are services that make paper use obsolete.
The problem with people going paperless isn't the technology, but the awareness that the technology exists. That's why we teamed up with Gogole Drive, Fujitsu, Expensify and others - to help people stop using paper for good.
10,000 / ~ 250 work days a year = 40 pages a day. That seems really excessive even if your counting books. For example, I have not printed anything in over a year, so while there are some books and papers people give me it's no where near 40 pages a day.
There are 7 billion people on the planet, heading for 9 billion by 2050. In general, we should consider how we all impact the planet in aggregate.
If 10,000 people take this pledge, and take it seriously, does that materially have a cost too?
In terms of making it more widespread, it takes some work.
The way we're doing it is by combining e-signatures with other services and doing user education and cross pollination between the services. Our other product is HelloFax, which lets you send and receive faxes online.
But, I think we're getting closer to an inflection point as society is starting to use e-signatures more and more.
Why wouldn't you host those yourself? Aren't there concerns and operational risks involved when using Amazon?
There are always concerns and risks involved with hosting personal data, but it's not fundamentally different based on cloud hosting compared to colocation (or even managing hardware at your own location). There's mild complexity because 3rd parties are involved, but this is quickly becoming the norm.
- Neal, co-founder of HelloFax
Even with native OS drivers, I don't think there's a way to implement this for authentication without the help of an online "profile", which I personally hate because it tends to centralization of data, which in this case is NOT a good idea.
Machine signatures are good enough to make a law.
However, every great solution involves uploading my scans to online services.
This is something I'm not comfortable doing with my sensitive data (i.e. tax records).
Has anyone found or developed tools that can be run locally to organize my files? Something like evernote? I'd like to just scan and shred, and not have to fuss too much with naming files, manually organizing files, etc. A good pdf search interface is a must.
We get free netbooks in school, that we carry every day, and I though "Great, this year I'll take notes with the notebook and store them in the cloud".
But... nope, teachers don't allow you to do that, mainly because they think you are in Facebook (Duh, we don't even have internet!).
Seriously, my life would be much easier.
Then there is the business side of this. If average office worker prints 10,000 sheets of paper per year the paper would cost about 100 euros per year. The black laser casettes would cost about 400 euros per year. This comes down to 500 euros per year and this supports workers working in the ink and paper industry. If I really need that much paper I can always pay the price of it. When going completely paperless would put the cash on the hands of few founders and server administrators and would require those who I am in contact with to use the same or compatible services.
In contrast, computers, data centers, mobile phones, and communication networks are well on their way to becoming one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions on the planet. Heavy metals, lead, and other hazardous materials are also frequently present in electronic products.
Paper itself is one of the most recycled products. Its production often lends itself to easy use of renewable energy sources (like hydro power) and proper forest management provides a sustainable source of raw materials as well as a carbon-sink .
Out of curiosity:
A) Which model do you recommend / use?
B) How does it perform for scanning ~40 page documents in? I've been thinking about looking at a auto-feed scanner but curious about how this might perform instead...
I use it mainly for 1-5 page documents and it works great except if the document is printed on really poor paper or the lead edge is crumpled. You do occasionally have to re-scan a page if it doesn't feed properly or gets rotated halfway through feeding.
If you are scanning 40 page documents and can afford the extra space you might want to consider a scanner with an auto-feed as your rescan rate may be higher than mine! The software is relatively easy to use and allows you to re-order pages, etc.
1) No, I will not store it on your server.
2) No, I will not run Windows or OSX to run your software.
3) I'd really like the source code.
Get back to me when you've solved those problems.
I like paper. I like pens. I like to get away from my computer and phone. I like to scribble, sketch, doodle, draw and take time to discover thoughts.
Paper will always be in my toolbox.
In all seriousness, though, I wonder about how people store their personal documents. What is everyone's favorite search utility for their desktop?