Thursday, February 02, 2006


"An oral contract is not worth the paper it's written on."

"Paper Jam." "Open Tray 1 and remove the jammed paper."

"I have to write a paper for Psychology class tonight."

"Jumbo Sized GEM Paper Clips."

I have been thinking a lot about paper lately. On one of the listservs I belong to the discussion of moving to web-only university catalogs or schedules of classes has come up again. I can understand this for class schedules because the information can change on a daily basis and they have a short shelf life. I think for catalogs it's a bad idea. If they exist only online, will people be able to access them in 25 years? Will they have the software to read the files?

I was cleaning out some office files yesterday and came across a banana yellow 3.5" floppy disk that must have contained some important information at one time, as it had been carefully put in a plastic envelope and filed away. Before throwing it out, I thought briefly about hanging it on my cubicle wall for decoration. I have no idea what was on it because I doubt there's a computer on the entire Bradley campus that has a drive that could read this disk. Whatever was on it has been lost. Since this is the Publications Office, however, its contents probably are printed in a catalog or newsletter somewhere. A copy of it most likely still exists.

At the doctor's office the other day, I watched the nurse carefully write down my weight and blood pressure on a neat little form for the doctor to review. She signed the bottom of the form before leaving the room. The doctor came in and wrote more notes on the form and he too signed it. He handed me my file to take with me to the front desk. Of course, I had to take a few minutes to look throught it while I slowly put my shoes on. It chronicled, in several different people's handwriting, my health for the past ten years. It contained xray readings and lab reports. All on paper! Perhaps some doctors have gone paperless, but it's probably more time consuming to make sure computers are available (and working) in every room and that people know how to use them. And that you can find what you need on them when you need it.

For many things, paper just makes more sense. I'm not giving up my job in the print world that easily!

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