Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The paperless office was a visionary or publicist's slogan, supposed to apply to the office of the future. The suggestion was that office automation would make the sheet of paper redundant, for routine tasks such as record-keeping and bookkeeping. It came to prominence in the days of the introduction of the personal computer. While the prediction of a PC on every desk was remarkably prescient (or, regarding it as marketing talk, very effective), the paperless nature of office work was less prophetic. Printers and photocopiers have made it much easier to produce documents in bulk, word-processing has deskilled secretarial work involved in writing those documents, and paper proliferates.
Paperless office is also a suitable metaphor for the touting of new technology in terms of 'modernity' rather than its actual suitability to purpose. As in 'the introduction of categories here led to some paperless office talk about how lists were going to be made redundant'.
- Sellen, Abigail J., Richard H. R. Harper. The Myth of the Paperless Office. Boston: MIT Press, 2003.
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