How many times throughout your life have you read predictions of the “paperless office of the future”? Wikipedia traces the notion to the 1940s, the BBC suggested it in 1969, WIRED in the mid-1980s, and the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. While I’ve certainly seen my filing cabinets dissipate over time, I still find myself jotting notes on paper, and being handed a stack of reports when I attend meetings. Is ink on paper just too good an interface to give up on?

For the definitive answer about the future, as always, we turn to Star Trek, which suggests that paper will be around a lot longer than you might suspect.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


3 Thoughts on "The (Not So) Paperless Future"

I realised that it is quite a paper world here, in XXI century, when all of the members of my PhD jury, one by one, demanded a paper copy of my thesis (sooner or later after I sent them a PDF).
This probably has something to do with the fact that making a 150-pages PDF that is easy to navigate – with my current experience and available tools – is much harder than printing it out, and binding it into a nice booklet with a shiny cover.

OTOH, it is evidence that they really want to read it. So maybe not so bad???

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