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The Myth of the Paperless Office (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – November 2001

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"If you wish to read anything at all on office management, read this book." Guardian UK "The authors approach their subject with academic rigour, observing real organisations to find out how people like to work." Financial Times "The case for paper is made most eloquently in The Myth of the Paperless Office..." Malcolm Gladwell The New Yorker


Over the past 30 years, many people have proclaimed the imminent arrival of the paperless office. Yet even the World Wide Web, which allows almost any computer to read and display another computer's documents, has increased the amount of printing done. The use of e-mail in an organization causes an average 40 percent increase in paper consumption. This text aims to explain why people continue to use paper in the digital age. In "The Myth of the Paperless Office", Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper use the study of paper as a way to understand the work that people do and the reasons they do it the way they do. Using the tools of ethnography and cognitive psychology and drawing on original case studies in a diverse set of organizations, they look at paper use from the level of the individual up to that of organizational culture. Sellen and Harper show that there are many important lessons to be learned from organizations that have tried to "go paperless". One is that putting new technologies in place doesn't necessarily reduce the amount of paper used. Rather, it may simply shift the point at which documents are printed out.

Another is that organizations may pursue paperlessness for the wrong reasons. They may want to get rid of paper simply because it is a symbol of the old-fashioned past, rather than an ineffective technology. Looking closely at paper use also shows why many existing digital technologies are inferior to paper for certain key tasks. For example, current e-books show that designers have paid little attention to the need for people to navigate through, mark up and work across multiple documents as they read. Looking at paper use suggests innovative ways forward for digital reading as well as for other technologies. Until such time as digital technologies can provide equal or better support for many of the tasks that are central to "knowledge work", the future for paper continues to look bright. Rather than pursue the ideal of the paperless office, the authors conclude, we should work toward a future in which paper and electronic document tools work in concert and organizational processes make optimal use of both.

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17 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
In praise of paper? 12. März 2004
Von Harald Groven - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
There are copious amounts of research on how people interact with computers or machines. However, there is very little research on all the hidden features of paper. "The Myth of the Paperless Office" brings attention to how office workers actually organize their information needs. In many ways, it's probably a pioneering work in computer usability, even though it doesn't specifically deal with computers, but rather anthropological research on the use of paper in organisations.
This book can be very useful for anyone. Especially for designers of computer systems that wonder why people still stick to yellow labels and printouts, even its technically "inefficient", compared to a digital solution. Its also recommended reading for bosses that plan to implement a "clean desk policy", or employees that are wondering how to get around clutter on their desks.
For an excellent review of the book, read the article "In praise of clutter" from The Economist Magazine (Dec 19th 2002)
11 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Interesting but outdated 22. März 2010
Von Robert Dubose - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
What a difference 8 years makes.

In 2002 it looked as though the authors were correct: the paperless office had been a myth. Technology had increased paper usage rather than decreased it. Many office workers still preferred to read and work on paper rather than screens.

But about the time this book was published, the "myth" started to become true. Per-capita paper usage in offices started to decline. In my experience, most office workers have switched from paper-reading to screen-reading in the last six years. And they have switched to screens for many of the tasks that the authors argued are better suited to paper reading. The difference is new technology. For instance, the authors argue that knowledge workers prefer to review, work, and collaborate on paper documents. As a lawyer, I found that argument to be true in 2002 when text-based programs did not include useful tools for collaboration. But developments since 2002 in programs such as MS Word and Adobe Acrobat have made it much easier to do tasks such as collaborative editing on a screen instead of paper.

Selen and Harper's argument does remain relevant and thought-provoking in one important respect. They explain the unique functionalities of paper to argue why paper is better for certain tasks. In the last 8 years, some technologies have been started to compete with the functionalities of paper. But some tasks remains more useful than screens for some tasks. Selen and Harper's arguments at least give us the analytical tools to think about whether certain tasks are better suited to paper or computers today.

This book was ground breaking in 2002. As a lover of paper, books, and libraries, I wish Selen and Harper had been right. I would be interested to see an updated edition that addresses the usage of paper today. But as technology has advanced, the argument of the current edition has become outdated.
A terrific analysis of the opportunities and limitations associated with paperless initiatives and business processes. 13. September 2014
Von Rafael Moscatel - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This bold and insightful analysis by two Microsoft employees into the psychological and practical reasons why certain business processes continue to rely on paper remains relevant even a decade after its publication. The book is especially helpful for records and information governance consultants more intent on providing their clients with a true understanding of the nature of their processes than selling them software solutions driven by buzz phrases including "The Paperless Office." Companies should certainly move toward imaging and digitization when feasible but the best solutions always require a sophisticated approach to rebuilding processes that recognize both opportunities, limitations and human nature.
2 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
I don't love it, but you might. 7. Dezember 2010
Von Mandi - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I read this in an archival history course. It would probably be most interesting to you if you: a) really love paper/ are a records manager or b) are interested in late twentieth-century corporate office trends.

The greatest thing about it, to me, was that it was written clearly and concisely. Their major points are clearly presented in the introduction. What follows in the bulk of the book elaborates on these.
16 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
What the UK media say 3. Dezember 2001
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
New Scientist, 10 November, 2001
This is a book that all managers should read...It explodes the paperless myth, and highlights the strengths and weakenesses of electronic paper-based systems.
The Guardian, 26 November, 2001
If you wish to read anything at all on office management, read this book
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