I came to the Mac through the print industry. Ink and paper are part of my DNA. The smell of printing inks, and the roar of giant presses touch me on a cellular level. As the son of an industry pioneer, I grew up around $500,000 laser drum scanners and whole floors dedicated to image retouching workstations and washing machine-sized storage drums.
In the 80’s, digital imaging was nascent. Scanners were mostly analogue, and went straight to film as part of a lengthy process of composition and exposure to achieve a final printed product. My father was regarded as somewhat of a celebrity for the daring abandon that he showed toward new technology, and the way he constantly looked toward the future.
One of his crowning achievements came around 1987 in a co-venture with a Japanese counterpart. Together, they envisioned a time when you would be able to send a scanned digital image around the globe. In pursuit of that, using state of the art (at the time) technology, they developed the processes and workflows to send an image via satellite directly from London to Tokyo. Today of course, such visionary concepts are trivial in nature. Digital transmission is fundamental to everything we do today.
In the 80's, the technology was outlandishly expensive and revolutionary. My exposure to it all was also a ingularly responsible for the drive, passion, and awe that I have for technology.
It is also the reason why I have a very deep relationship with the print production process. Most people go to the file menu and print, but it has taken decades of engineering, countless man-hours, and unfathomable amounts of money and investment to provide the average user with that single function.
On the surface—for the average consumer—printing an email, an e-ticket for a flight, or getting your favourite photos into a frame on the wall is about the only time we use paper in relation to computers. Some of us venture into photo books or community newsletters, but aside from the occasional need to print sign some legal documents, we don’t do that much printing.
The reality, however, is quite different. For some reason we all end up with tomes of paper records; stacks of statements, receipts, and invoices; boxes of financial documents that need to be kept for X number of years. Is this still necessary?
2017 is half way gone, and the fact that we are so dependent on paper still is ridiculous. I hear over and over again that the computer has somehow generated more paperwork than saved us from it. We’re still cutting down trees at an alarming rate, but at least (thank goodness) we have the common sense to recycle as much as we can, and replant as much as possible.
So how can we still escape the paper-strewn office, given all our new and cheap technology? The answer lies in that one function that my dad invested most heavily into, and yet still to this day we view as a secondary, and comparatively unfamiliar function: scanning.
The path to paperless
I honestly believe that we have everything we need to be able to move towards a paper-free home and work environment.
I’ll say this now though—I don’t for a second think that paper is going away in my generation. Maybe my kids will live in a paperless world, but for at least the next 15 to 20 years, I think we’ll still be quite dependent on it.
Over the coming seven months, I’d like to address the matter through the following topics. Together I think they address real world solutions to the mass of paper that clutters our homes.
September — Scanner Pro by Readdle. How one iOS app can change the way you look at your phone and the need to keep receipts and loose paper. iOS 11 will also be introducing document scanning to Notes, and we’ll touch on that too.
October — Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. A mind-blowingly effective combination of hardware and software that turned 750 sheets of paper in various folders into digital documents in the span of 45 minutes. I’m on a mission to digitize my entire file cabinet, and I’m loving every second. In fact—I’ve never spent so much quality time with my shredder—bonus!
November — Multi-function Ink Jet Printers. Do they still have a place in our home? How can we make best use of them, and what are the pitfalls to look out for?
December — Why the Cloud will Change the Way you Look at Document Storage. A linchpin in the whole process, embracing cloud-based storage is a must for anyone committed to reducing the amount of square footage in your home and at work that has been lost to paper.
January — Managing eDocuments. Stop paper at the source. How to manage PDF or digital only statements, bills and invoices.
February — Backup, Backup, Backup. The security and peace of mind to know you’ll never lose a single document again.
March — Becoming a Search Wizard. You’ve got it all in and you’re capturing everything that crosses your desk. Now you need to be able to find it again. This is it. This is where the Mac outshines every single other platform in my mind (iOS included), and why the Mac will remain a dominant force in an increasingly digital world.
I hope I’ve whet your appetite sufficiently. We’ll update this document to link to all the articles as they’re complete. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again in September.