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Dave Gaynon recently referred us to an article entitled "The Character,
Value, and Management of Personal Paper Archives" by Steve Whittaker and
Julia Hirschberg.  ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 8,
No. 2, June 2001, Pages 150-170.

I acquired the article and, although quite academic by its nature, I thought
it quite interesting in understanding why we keep paper.  As a result, I
found out I'm a "piler".  That explains my office...

In the article, several interesting conclusions were made:

"We found little compelling evidence that paper had no role in modern office
work."
The scale, growth rate, and attitudes to paper archives suggest they
continue to be a valuable resource for workers, and younger workers were
just as likely to rely on paper than older ones."
"Our findings concerning the obsolescence hypothesis add to the growing
literature attesting to the intrinsic utility of paper, and contradict the
view that the paperless office is imminent."
"Even new office workers were compiling archives of paper data, despite the
increased availability of digital materials and the growth of the Internet."

If you believe these conclusions, paper will be around for quite a while
longer, and the newer and younger workers are not giving up their paper and
replacing it with electronic equivalents.  We may eventually end up with our
records being paperless (at least our transactional records), but our
offices will continue to have paper around for other purposes because if its
long-term value, convenience, portability, etc.  And, because we keep buying
printers!



Lee Michael, CRM
Records Program Manager
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Golden, CO

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