Malcolm Gladwell’s 2002 article on paperwork at The New Yorker.
“The Social Life of Paper” (link to The New Yorker)
(can’t seem to get the ads out of the way of the text though)
Gladwell.com link: http://gladwell.com/the-social-life-of-paper/
(ad-free, but gladwell.com URLs have been changed, old link no longer works)
It is only if paper’s usefulness is in the information written directly on it that it must be stored. If its usefulness lies in the promotion of ongoing creative thinking, then, once that thinking is finished, the paper becomes superfluous. The solution to our paper problem, they write, is not to use less paper but to keep less paper. Why bother filing at all? Everything we know about the workplace suggests that few if any knowledge workers ever refer to documents again once they have filed them away, which should come as no surprise, since paper is a lousy way to archive information. It’s too hard to search and it takes up too much space. Besides, we all have the best filing system ever invented, right there on our desks — the personal computer. That is the irony of the P.C.: the workplace problem that it solves is the nineteenth-century anxiety.