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It's common knowledge that the term "paperless office" is a running joke, right? Back in the 70s, with the advent of computers, futurists predicted that electronic information would drive the end of our need for paper. Everybody believed it. Xerox totally freaked out.

But in 2016 there's still paper everywhere. One IT guy I worked with joked that "electronic routing just means everyone prints out his own copy". I've seen it. It's just too hard to think on a computer screen. I even do it myself. I consider myself a tech savvy, internet generation kinda gal, but when I am faced with a technical problem that I feel stunned by, I have a go-to move: start printing shit out.

The part specs, the manuals, the email with the description of the problem. Then I get out my highligher and colored pencils, I write notes, I NEED that paper. It makes the information clear in my head and I can find a next step.

A month after the problem is solved, I encounter that pile of paper and remember the fabulous conclusion that I summed up in my email response. And all the paper goes into a recycle bin.

You know what we are getting away from?

Filed papers.

We still love paper, but we don't store it, at least from what I'm seeing. For reading, thinking and reviewing, we love paper. For searching, storing and retaining, computers are winning the battle.

This has lead to the file-less office. We file very few things. We used to file everything.

So you know what our supply rooms are full of?

File folders.

Those dark green ones with the metal tabs so you can hang them. Sometimes new colorful ones. Sometimes black.

Usually dark green.

In every stage of wear and tear, or brand new, there are drawers and drawers of empty file folders from the days long ago when we filed things.

And so this leads me to the purpose of this post: if there's one thing that you should not buy new, it's file folders. I can't believe manufacturers are still making them. It's offensive that you can go to staples and find evidence that we just killed another tree for these things. They are everywhere.

If you want to file something, and don't have an office worker in your life, go to ebay. People are selling used file folders by the 100s. I am not alone in encountering the drawers full of them.

If we stopped making file folders now, we'd have enough to last us the next 200 years, at least, until they decay. I bet the ones I'm finding are from the 1950s and they're holding up just fine.

There are just so many - where can they all go?

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
siglinde99
Mar. 11th, 2016 12:08 am (UTC)
I use them in my office. When I have time to file, that is. Printing things out is a luxury because it allows me to slow down and think. Sadly, my office is littered with things I need to read but can't get to because people keep sending me pointless, urgent emails that I didn't need to be copied on. I can't just ignore them because there might be something relevant buried in email trails (buried instructions with tight deadlines happen all the time). Actually, taking the time to file is a meditative way to work through problems.
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ironphoenix
Mar. 11th, 2016 02:24 am (UTC)
Finance.
lookfar
Mar. 11th, 2016 03:09 am (UTC)
I have this same idea about cast iron frying pans and exercise bikes. Haven't enough of them come into the world by now?
randomdreams
Mar. 11th, 2016 03:42 am (UTC)
I think you've hit on the change in office setups: we don't use paper to archive anymore. That is all electronic. We do still use paper for active documents.
smittenbyu
Mar. 11th, 2016 01:46 pm (UTC)
ha ha our office got our file folders shelves from craigslist like thing for nonprofits. Only our accountant/finance person uses it to back up documents. Our President uses the way you describe - active files and then he never discards them. They pile up everywhere on his desk, floor, everywhere, with an empty file cabinet next to him!!
clevermanka
Mar. 11th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
Another example of my university's ridiculous attachment to outdated methods (and shitty IT security). I asked if I could scan all our GTA and student files to digital files and they said no because it wouldn't be secure. Apparently social security numbers and such are safer in my unlocked desk drawers in an office which can be broken into with a firm enough credit card.
spacefem
Mar. 11th, 2016 05:28 pm (UTC)
this has come up with medical records and it's so sad! and scary. papers in files can in theory be accessed by anybody, any time, and there's no way to trace who went through them or who's seen them. We can log where data goes. A paper can be taken out, copied, and put back and nobody will ever know the difference.
soundofsunlight
Mar. 12th, 2016 01:19 am (UTC)
Then I get out my highligher and colored pencils, I write notes, I NEED that paper. It makes the information clear in my head and I can find a next step.

omg yes! I try to work off of the screen for a smaller / easier tasks, but for anything that's even a little bit complex, I need it on paper to get it clear in my head. It's just so much easier to think on paper.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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