Social Life of Paper

The Social Life of Paper is a great essay about why paper is still so improtant to us in this age of computers. Malcolm Galwell, the author of the Tipping Point, reviews The Myth of the Paperless Office which argues that paper helps us organize and process information in a way that filing cabinets and computers cannot. As an example, he describes how air traffic controllers use strips of paper to track airplanes and to bring information to the attention of other air traffic controllers in a way that would be very difficult to duplicate with a computer.

Given how stressful email is making our work lives, I am starting to have more compassion to people’s reluctance to update our air traffic control system!