Sunday, February 10, 2008

The end of paper?

After rising steadily in the 1980s and ’90s, worldwide paper consumption per capita has plateaued in recent years. In the richest countries, consumption fell 6 percent from 2000 to 2005, from 531 to 502 pounds a person. The data bolsters the view of experts like Mr. Kahle who say paper is becoming passé.

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...

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.”

-Pushing Paper Out the Door

The Social Life of Paper

The Paperless Undergrad

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