JANUARY 2005 IN
RICK ASTER’S WORLD

Ring Out the Analog

Two decades ago, technologists promised us a “paperless office” in which all documents would be handled in electronic form. Paper-free business as a practical possibility is probably still half a century away, but the digital world is sneaking up on us. This new year might be a good time to stop to consider what old-fashioned analog items you might want to discard now that you can save them in digital form.

At this point, digital has three key advantages over analog. First, digital is smaller; you can save space by digitizing things and discarding the originals. Second, it is easy to make digital copies, which is a helpful way to reduce the risk of losing something important. Third, it might be easier to find something in digital form, especially something like a document, because you can arrange digital files in as many folders as it takes to organize them in whatever way makes the most sense to you.

You already know that letters sent by e-mail take up less space than ones sent by postal mail and that digital photos cost much less than photo prints, but here are a few more ideas. These are documents you might want to keep only in digital form, throwing away the paper in order to simplify your life and save space.

The other big analog category is tape — magnetic tape, that is. I know more than a few people who still record and play tapes every day, but if you’re not in that category, take a critical look at your tape collection.

As I said, the digital world is sneaking up on us, so some of your analog stuff might have lost its value right before your eyes. I remember when I had a book of ZIP codes in my office, but times have changed. Don’t surround yourself with archaic analog clutter. Ring out the old, ring in the new.


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