The Jetsons aired for only two years in the 1960s, but its significance in pop culture is still pretty strong. Whether it actually was or not, the show is now viewed as an amalgam of people’s hopes for the future, which people now snicker at. Of all the high-tech gadgetry seen in The Jetsons, most of the attention is now focused on the flying cars which were featured heavily. Us people of the 21st century now know better, after all.
What’s truly funny about all this, though, is that this sort of attitude applies to many technologies and concepts, though typically on a smaller scale. Take, for example, the idea of the paperless office.
According to an article from Forbes, information scientist Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster first envisioned a paperless society back in 1978 — 15 years after the initial run of The Jetsons went off the air. But now, in the light of the 21st century, the idea seems almost quaint. The fact is, it’s not likely a whole society can manage to go completely paperless; paper has its uses.
That said, it’s possibly to go nearly paperless, as Forbes contributor Kate Harrison points out in her article.
To start with, it’s very easy to keep internal documents digital thanks to the variety of free document sharing services available, such as Google Docs, while many businesses can shell out for more premium services like Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365. Likewise, document storage is easy with services like Dropbox, while free services like Doodle, SurveyMonkey and whenisgood.net offer free services for conducting surveys and scheduling meetings.
For statements and billing, there are again services which can make the process paperless, such as the Square phone app, which enables users to accept payments with a smartphone.
The major snag in this digital dream comes when you try to digitize faxing. To be more accurate, it’s entirely possible to perform all faxing digitally these days — FaxSIPit’s FAX Service, for example, uses the HTTPS Fax protocol to deliver faxes over VoIP connections — but faxing still tends to at least start with a piece of paper. In fact, some industries — such as those regulated by HIPAA and SOX — require the use of a good old fax machine.
Of course it’s entirely possible that I simply lack vision; maybe we’re actually quite close to a completely paperless era. But for now, at least, paper has its purposes.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson