Searching for method in the mess; a review of The Myth of the Paperless Office.
Malcolm Gladwell, "The Social Life of Paper", MP3, Copyright The New Yorker 2002. This was read for Assistive Media, a free service that provides high quality literary works in digital audio formats for the visually impaired and for those who love the sound of reading.
The full text of The Social Life of Paper is on Gladwell's own site.
More on Gladwell from Jason Kottke.
An excerpt from the article:
The case for paper is made most eloquently in "The Myth of the Paperless Office" (M.I.T.; $24.95), by two social scientists, Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper. They begin their book with an account of a study they conductedat the International Monetary Fund, in Washington, D.C. Economists at the I.M.F. spend most of their time writing reports on complicated economic questions, work that would seem to be perfectly suited to sitting in front of a computer. Nonetheless, the I.M.F. is awash in paper, and Sellen and Harper wanted to find out why. Their answer is that the business of writing reports—at least at the I.M.F.—is an intensely collaborative process, involving the professional judgments and contributions of many people. The economists bring drafts of reports to conference rooms, spread out the relevant pages, and negotiate changes with one other. They go back to their offices and jot down comments in the margin, taking advantage of the freedom offered by the informality of the handwritten note. Then they deliver the annotated draft to the author in person, taking him, page by page, through the suggested changes. At the end of the process, the author spreads out all the pages with comments on his desk and starts to enter them on the computer—moving the pages around as he works, organizing and reorganizing, saving and discarding.