Ed makes excellent points again here.  In addition, I believe it is
important to not underestimate the cultural aspect of paper records.  I
don't know of anyone who is closing on a home, buying a new car, or any of
those transactions where there is a myriad of records created....that would
settle for a computer disk being handed to them (or data input) in lieu of
copies of actual paper documents!--the purchaser, business or government!
Even as costs associated with electronic recordkeeping technologies
continues to decrease, there remains a very, very deeply rooted cultural
attachment to paper records...for many reasons.  I just don't see the
diffusion of electronic recordkeeping innovation as something that is
happening as quickly as some imply.  We're not going to impose on a society
something they aren't willing to readily accept.

My .02

Gus Harris
The Univ. of West FL
Pensacola, FL

>        Sorry to repost a message I sent so recently, but I guess it's my
>Ed Southern
>    I believe it is more profitable and useful for records managers (or
>records and information managers) to look at the real business needs, the
>existing workflow, and other practical aspects of office management when
>making recommendations about the use of paper and the use of computer
>technology for a specific client---than to point to trends (about the
>increasing use of IT or anything else) in an unexamined and uncritical
>manner. The trends may or may not be valid or valid only under specific
>circumstances. In many cases, paper is still the most useful medium for some
>persons for understanding the vast (and often irrelevant) volume of unsorted
>information one can find on the Internet. Paper also remains useful for
>specific phases of reasoning, decision-making, and illustration (mental or
>    If you visit a client, are you there to sell IT for its own sake, or are
>you there to investigate in an objective way what media are in use and to
>make recommendations about the suitability of each medium, based on what
>will be more efficient for the business goals concerned? What I am hearing
>from my valued colleagues seems to be a kind of seduction by technology or a
>kind of trendiness (even if I have now heard about the trend for about
>twenty years). I suppose one must be candid about goals and the means to
>reach the goals. We were certainly mesmerized in the early 1960s about
>sending a human to the moon. The development of other technologies and a
>sense of budgetary limits, among other factors, has called into question for
>some the advisability of the effort that finally succeeded in 1969. Might we
>have gained the same amount of knowledge had we sent a robot to the moon?
>Perhaps so, perhaps not. That seems to me to be a different question. The
>overall question concerns what your goals are and what the best means are to
>reach them.
>Ed Southern
>Edwin Southern, Ph.D  ([log in to unmask])
>Head, State and University Records Unit
>Department of Cultural Resources
>Division of Historical Resources
>Archives and Records Section
>Government Records Branch
>4615 Mail Service Center
>Raleigh, NC 27699-4615
>Phone 919/733-3540
>Fax 919/715-3627
>Opinions expressed in this message may
>not represent the policy of my agency.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Records Management Program [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
>Behalf Of Steven Whitaker
>Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 7:32 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Paper and The New Yorker
>I read the article.  What a bunch of hogwash, social science baloney, and
>excuses for not wanting to change.  Even the examples they use are flawed.
>Crash go the chariots!
>The reason the sale and use of paper has risen is because now just about
>everybody has one, or more, computers, and now EVERYBODY creates
>information.  98% of all information created in the western world is created
>electronically on PCs, computer systems and applications, and via data
>acquisition devices.  And, a certain percentage of people still have the
>anal retentive HABIT of printing.
>There is one million times more information in the world now than 20 years
>ago.  If the use of printing paper has increased 15X in the past five years,
>then that stat very strongly indicates that the percentage of total
>information available that was printed to paper has dropped very
>significantly.  The author who wrote the article, and the ...genius
>academicians ... who wrote the books did not mention this fact.  I wonder if
>they are not intelligent enough to recognize it, or perhaps it merely does
>not support their agenda...., or pre-set conclusion.
>A sad commentary about our profession is that a lot of RM folks don't want
>to change; they like paper and are very resistant.  Old habits, fears, and
>insecurities, no doubt.
>The paperless office is not a myth; it is a real possibility.  It does take
>Best regards, Steve
>Steven D. Whitaker, CRM
>>>> Elizabeth Meylor <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/02 02:08PM >>>
>I received this reference via the SOLOLIB-L listserv and thought you
>might be interested in seeing it also.  I have also scanned the article
>but it deals with paper and the myth of the paperless office.
>Thanks, Michelle, for the notice.
>Elizabeth Meylor
>Hammel Green and Abrahamson, Inc.
>Minneapolis, MN 55401
>[log in to unmask]
>From:  [log in to unmask]
>To: <[log in to unmask]>
>Date:  3/20/02 3:29PM
>Subject:  The illusory advantage of digitizing [sic] documents
>Hi there
>For those info shufflers out there (myself included) - you may be
>to read the following article from the New Yorker. Dear old Dewey even
>a mention (says the librarian fondly, ho ho).
>Michelle Burrell
>Information Analyst
>Ministry of Housing
>> <>
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