We need a better definition of paperless

A literal reading of this survey question leads inevitably to a pair of correct answers: absolutely yes and absolutely not.

The question: "Do you think the United States will ever be a paperless society?"

Ever? That's a long time, so my answer is absolutely yes; everything happens sooner or later.

But a paperless society? As in no paper? None?

ALSO: 8 piles of paper the iPad replaced

Absolutely not, at least not until someone figures out how to unring the bell; in other words, how to uninvent paper.

All of which is my smart-alecky way of saying I'm not sure how anyone could possibly answer the question -- as posed -- yet according to a press release from Poll Position, 1,142 registered voters gave it a go when contacted by robocall last month ... and at least three of every four had no trouble reconciling my inevitability and impossibility issues. The results:

 56% said predictions of a paperless society aren't worth the paper they'll still be printed on -- forever;

 20% said a paperless society, undefined, is only a matter of enough monkeys writing enough Shakespeare;

 And the other 24% -- otherwise known as the sensible people -- either offered no opinion or said they didn't know.

It would seem as though a definition of "paperless" might have been helpful here, at least to me and perhaps a portion of the "other 24%." Wikipedia has a page for "paperless office" - note it's office, not society - and the article opens with this definition: "A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced."

Or greatly reduced? (More fudge, anyone?) By that definition I already work in a paperless office: It's been years since I've had a file cabinet, I surrendered my personal printer without a whimper, and there's a reason I check my snail-mail cubbyhole about once a month ... if that.

Yet we still have interoffice mail, right after the holiday I peeled the shrink wrap off a 2012 desk blotter calendar (I have my reasons), and my business card still carries a telephone number for a fax machine they say is located somewhere on this floor.

Paperless? Not by a long shot.

And the paperless office is a piece of cake, relatively speaking.

As for your truly paperless society? I can hear the monkeys typing, but I'm quite confident they'll still be clanging away long after I'm gone.

Kids flip for Flip

Having recently read a Network World story about Cisco's Umi being deader than the Wicked Witch reminds me to mention a personal experience with another of Cisco's toe-tagged products: the Flip.

Ask my children and I am fairly certain they would tell you that the Cisco Flip is the very best Thanksgiving present they have ever received.

Thanksgiving present?

Yes, their Uncle Brian had brought one of Cisco's dearly departed pocket video cameras to the McNamara family T-Day gathering ... and my three 10-year-olds had so much fun using it that Brian, sensing an opportunity to claim Favorite Uncle status, flipped it to one of them as he and Aunt Sheila were heading for the door.

Two months and a mountain of Christmas gifts later and the Flip remains a source of regular amusement.

You might think a company could make money selling such a popular gadget.

Comments? You could send a post card, but buzz@nww.com works better.

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