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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] the paperless office

<Personal Use-Case Info>    (01)

Over the years, I've noticed several advantages to paper:
  1. Lots of info on the page, and I can take it with me to read
      just about anywhere.    (02)

  2. I can jot down notes, comments, corrections, and
      counter-arguments in the margins.    (03)

  3. Different sizes, shapes, positions, and locations of papers
      stay in my mind -- so when I want something, I have a
      pretty good idea where to look, if I handled it in the last
      month or so. (Beyond that, stuff is effectively buried.)    (04)

  4. The stuff on the top of the heap triggers my "to do" reflex.
      The stuff that got buried conveniently slides of my mental stack.    (05)

  5. About once a year, when I'm procastinating before starting
      a major new project, I "clear the decks" by tossing all the
      old paper. Feels good.    (06)

In contrast, I once spent a year tracking my "todo" lists with my
outliner program. Had lists for home, work, and for when I'm out
and about, so I was very productive. When I walked into the
hardware store, I'd have the list of the things I needed for any and
all projects I was working on (typically several).    (07)

That was great for a while, but after a few months I noticed that
every week or so I would add 10 items, but only 6 or 7 would get
done. So every week I would accumulate 2 to 4 things that didn't
get done.    (08)

In the past, with my lists on scraps of paper, they would get lost,
or misplaced, so I'd write new ones. When I found the old ones,
they would be dog-eared and useless, so I'd throw them out.    (09)

In that process, anything important enough to *stay* in my mental
queue got transferred from the old scrap of paper to the new
scrap. I was quite comfortable, having anywhere from 2 to 10
things on a scrap of paper at any one time -- seldom more or less.    (010)

But after a year with an electronic system, I had 100 items that the
stupid program would not let me forget! Each one sat there, mocking
me, every time I opened up my list. When it grew to 4 pages long,
I threw it away and went back to the scraps of paper.    (011)

I never looked back. I've been happy with scraps of paper for todo
lists ever since, and I have stacks of printouts to read in my office.
(When it gets a foot deep, it's time to purge. But until then, it's
comfortable.)    (012)

What I need to remember is right there at the top, and what's less
important is farther down. And when I want to clear the decks, I
can.    (013)

On the other hand, I also keep mail in different project categories
-- especially mail that contains *information* I need to carry out
an action item. When I get back to that project, the information I
need will be right there.    (014)

A structured todo list is also enormously helpful when working on
a project -- to keep track of the things I need to do in some other
module, when I get to it.    (015)

So I use both systems. Disk storage is great for long term access
and for remote access. On screen viewing is great for browsing
to see if that's the document I want. But when it comes time to
work on the project and use the information, I invariably print it
first...    (016)

Graham Stalker-Wilde wrote:    (017)

> Interesting article in the current issue of "The Economist" called "In
> Praise of Clutter".
> Essentially it's on the idea of clutter as an external memory device - using
> paper as a means of mapping pre-, or partially, categorized information.
> Makes a number of good points. One is the density of paper as an information
> storage medium compared to screens. Another is how much more convenient -
> and informative - it is to rearrange pieces of paper on a desk than windows
> on a screen. The most interesting area to me is perhaps the application of
> technology to filing/retrieval
> Worth a look.
> Graham Stalker-Wilde
> www.stalker-wilde.com    (018)