The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 7, February 17, 2008, Article 34


[This week the New York Times had an interesting article
on a family that has gone entirely paperless, putting all
their paperwork, including books, into electronic format.
The E-Sylum has been paperless from day one, and here and
there we see examples of electronic numismatic literature.
Will the day come when most collectors view their literature
in electronic form only?  -Editor]

CHRIS UHLIK’S children can be found in their home computer
lab almost every morning. Nicole is writing a story about
her two lizards. Tony is playing an interactive spelling
game, while Andy is learning multiplication tables. Even
5-year-old Joceline is clicking away at a storybook game.

Mr. Uhlik, an engineering director at Google, and his family
live a practically paper-free life. The children are home-
schooled on computers. Other sources of household paper —
lists, letters, calendars — have become entirely digital.

Going paperless was a conscious decision by the Uhliks.
But many families may be closer to entering a paperless
world than they realize. Paper-reducing technologies have
crept into homes and offices, perhaps more for efficiency
than for environmentalism; few people will dispute the
convenience of online bill-paying and airline e-tickets.

“Paper is no longer the master copy; the digital version
is,” says Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the
Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. “Paper has
been dealt a complete deathblow. When was the last time
you saw a telephone book?”

“Some people are happy to throw away their past. Not me,”
says Brad Templeton, who has founded an Internet newspaper
and a software company and is the chairman of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation. “I’m a digital pack rat. I have phone
bills from 1983 and taxes from the 1990s. But I have everything
scanned, so it takes up no physical space. For me, scanners
provide the magic of still having all my documents without
the clutter.”

Although he would like to scan his entire book collection,
Mr. Templeton, who is based in Silicon Valley, instead
typically reads e-books when he is delayed at the airport
or caught in a line somewhere. “It’s not as pleasant as
reading a paper book,” he said. “But the e-book you have
is better than the book you don’t.”

Many companies, like H-P, Fujitsu, and Canon, have leapt
into the paperless home market with new scanners for personal
and home use, which is the fastest-growing sales segment.
Worldwide shipments jumped to 623,000 in 2007 from 354,000
in 2005, and sales are expected to top 1.1 million by 2010,
according to IDC, a market research company.

Fujitsu introduced a document-fed scanner called the ScanSnap
in 2003, expecting to sell it mostly to businesses. But the
company quickly realized that there was a huge market for
inexpensive, fast household scanners. Its small, portable
ScanSnap was introduced in November, at a price of $295,
well below the $495 price of the larger original.

Some people prefer to bypass the purchase of a scanner and
instead farm out the scanning — to India, where it can be
done on the cheap. ScanCafé, which specializes in digitizing
and retouching photographs, has an office in the San Francisco
Bay Area, but most of its employees are in Bangalore. They
will take a shoe box full of prints or a photo album and
return the originals with a CD and your own online digital
library. They scan paper documents, too, for about 40 cents
a page.

Robert Burdock, a student at the University of St. Andrews
in Scotland, carries a digital camera to class so he can
take a picture of any handout and immediately turn it into
a text-searchable document on his laptop.

“Say I’m writing an essay on Edward III. A quick input of
the term in Google Desktop and I’m presented with everything
I have on the subject,” Mr. Burdock wrote in an e-mail message,
which had a note at the bottom asking the recipient to consider
the environment before printing. “This is a massive time saver
when compared to manual searching and sifting.”

IN the desire for efficiency — to find exactly what you need
the moment you need it — paper is being left behind. Mr. Uhlik,
who also worked on Google’s Book Search, the book scanning
project, has scanned about 100 of his reference books to try
to make his home library digital and searchable. Because he
wants to keep the house nearly paper-free, most of his
remaining 1,000 books are in a shed. He occasionally pays
his children to help scan them.

“Once the books are all scanned and backed up on several
hard drives, I’ll never have to worry about the shed roof
leaking and ruining them,” he says. “I’ve preserved them
forever if I put them on the computer.”

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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