Friday, January 08, 2010

Ode to the Paperless Society

I thought this comment to a piece on "Healthcare IT myths" was worthy of wider distribution. (The full piece is also a worthwhile read by itself; disclosure - my work is cited.)

Here is the comment:

bill waters iii md says:
January 8, 2010 at 3:57 am

James Fallows, in a recent Atlantic Monthly, writes that, unlike paper in any of its forms–which retains images –computer software, disks, and drives contain only magnetic impulses that can dissipate. Furthermore, anything over 5 years old runs the risk of there being no software or hardware which can read it. In the coding cubicle of a famously “wired” hospital, I recently noted scores of pigeonholes containing packs of forms.

With the advent of electronic methods to manipulate and store data, business has between 1980 and 2000 quadrupled its production and utilization of paperwork.


By Bill Waters, MD

Write on the beach, the tide will erase;
Write on the dune, the wind will deface;
Write on the disk, time will show its hand;
Remember now—they’re all just sand.*

But papyrus and parchment are so well made
The Dead Sea Scrolls will never fade.
The vaunted electron will soon turn to vapor
And its principal product is still just—paper.

*For those in Washington, we’re talking about
silicon, get it?

There is wisdom in this short piece, as well as a certain charm.

-- SS

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