The Papered Office

Statistics Canada has released a study from its Connectedness Series entitled “Our lives in digital times.” The Daily has a summary, and the full 24 page report is available in pdf format.

The main thrust of the study’s findings seems to be that when it comes to information and communication technologies (ICTs) things haven’t worked out in the way we imagined they would. For example,

The arrival of the personal computer gave much talk to the “paperless office”. However, between 1983 and 2003, consumption of paper for printing and writing alone more than doubled, according to the study, entitled “Our lives in digital times”.

In addition, professional travel has most likely increased during a period when the Internet and videoconferencing technology were taking-off…

Similarly, volumes of postal mail have been rising, although the composition of mail has changed, and couriers and local messengers are proliferating. This is the case even as Internet usage and e-mail are high in Canada.

One extremely visible outcome of ICTs is that the information society is a “talkative society”. People have never spoken on the telephone more, and particularly at a time when they also send and receive massive amounts of e-mail and other electronic communications.

This will not be news to beleaguered Slaw readers, as the authors of the report acknowledge:

[A]ll this adds to a sense of ‘busyness’. The situation is obviously much more pronounced among the sizeable group of ICT users, and even more so among the smaller sub-group of heavy users. Although these people may feel the strain more than the others, it trickles over to the rest of society, contributing to the perception that people are busier than ever. In that sense, ICTs can be added to the broader spectrum of time-saving technologies that ironically lead to busier lives.


  1. Ça m’attriste à chaque fois que je lis de telles statistiques. Évidemment, ce n’est jamais une surprise de voir les chiffres confirmer ce que j’observe au quotidien. Par contre, c’est désolant de constater qu’aucun effort n’est fait pour remédier à la situtation: “old habits die hard”!

    Comment expliquer qu’encore “approximately 61 per cent of lawyers save printed hard copies of client-related emails” comme l’écrit le 2006 Legal Technology Survey Report? Je vous invite à lire mon billet à ce sujet.

    Un paperless lawyer

  2. This is an interesting piece. At EchoSign we’ve seen that most of our customers are interested in going paperless but more to make transactions simpler, and still do eventually print out a signed copy and file it away somewhere …