The paperless office is at home

Forget the paperless office, think paperless home.

The New York Times in a Sunday piece trots out high tech heavies Brewster Kahle and Brad Templeton on a piece on the paperless home.

Brewster Kahle is the founder and director of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, and Brad Templeton founded an Internet newspaper and is chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Kahle: “Paper has been dealt a complete deathblow. When was the last time you saw a telephone book?”

Well, today, but it’s a bit ragged and anyway it’s under some other papers away from page turning temptation.

Templeton: “I’m a digital pack rat. I have phone bills from 1983 and taxes from the 1990s. But I have everything scanned, so it takes up no physical space. For me, scanners provide the magic of still having all my documents without the clutter.”

Phone bills from 1983? And for why?

I do have a scanner, but haven’t committed to going paperless, but I may just be a yellowing scrap of humanity from the Paper Era. The article says paper use is declining to a mere 502 pounds per person in the “richest” countries.

There’s always the backup issue when going paperless, which gets amazing short-shift in the piece. You’ve got everything safely backed up at home, right?

But the paperless home appears more likely than the fabled paperless work office. Perhaps that’s because the people doing the printing are paying for the “expendables.”

At work, we’re on a campaign to force duplex printing. Based on our paper use — copy paper, not newsprint — we could save a tidy sum with all duplex. We still print out lots of reports and sales presentations and things that find their way into the trash within hours — often sooner. There’s something deeply comforting in having the same piece of paper someone is reading the highlights of in a meeting. Call it the shuffle factor.

So go paperless in 2008, we’re in the Digital Era after all. But if you have phone bills from the 1980s, trust me, you can dump them.