Friday, December 08, 2006

Waste of space

In a bold new move, and to prove how ecology conscious they are, Xerox has designed a new kind of paper. The printing fades after being exposed to light in about 16-24 hours, a process that is sped up by using the paper to print something new. Supposedly for emails and memos that you just have to see in print on paper, this innovative paper could be the genesis for a whole new crop of ideas. Death bed and murder confessions spring immediately to my warped mind. I wonder though why develop such a paper in the first place. Okay, so memos that have the shelf life of a May Fly are one reason, but why print them out when email is so much simpler and faster and creates no waste? Do we really need to smell the ink or toner and feel the paper in our hands?

As a writer I want what I print out to last--as long as there are no errors. If there are errors then I have to use clean paper and start all over again. If I use the new Xerox paper when I have a perfect finished product it will fade in 16-24 hours. Does that mean I should deliberately make mistakes so I can get the most use out of the paper, which is supposed to be good for up to 50 printings, or should I be more careful and print out only what is error free on non-fading paper? In the end, the paper will still be recycled no matter how many times it is used to print useless short lived memos, so what have I gained? What if I forget I have the fading paper in my printer and print out my novel to send to a publisher who ends up receiving a stack of blank paper with only a return address on an envelope to designate where it came from, an envelope that will most assuredly be trashed as soon as the stack of paper is removed? Here I am waiting for word from the publisher and nothing happens, not, I might add, a situation that is that rare. Writers wait endlessly for publishers. If six months or a year goes by without word our lives and writing continue regardless. I can just imagine 10 publishers with 10 manuscripts that were on the paper wondering why someone is sending them blank paper. Is it a hoax? Does the writer think they're funny or clever? "Well, we'll show them," the publisher says and puts the paper in their own copy machine to print out copies of another author's novel or changes and they send those to the author who wonders why the publisher has sent them blank paper. Is this some kind of joke or is the publisher telling them something? Could it be their words are as worthless as the paper or are they asking the author to start from the beginning? I can see all kinds of misunderstandings cropping up and a new war beginning in the publishing industry.

The wars will escalate in every sector of our ordered and well papered lives. Bill collectors and finance companies will receive contracts for payment on the fading paper and will be unable to take their proof to the courts. Lawyers' briefs will vanish overnight in the judge's chambers and the offending lawyers will end up paying fines and spending time in jail for contempt of court. Supreme Court decisions will disappear (and some of them should). Government will crash and burn as chaos reigns and all because fading paper was used to print out laws and ordinances and communications. The country will come to a standstill and the Internet will catch fire from the venting and wars and recriminations and breakdown of society as we know it.

I don't think this paper is a good idea. It's one of those things that seems like a responsible, ecological choice but ends up throwing the delicate natural balance into chaos. I wonder what CEO Xerox will fire for this one?

That is all. Disperse.

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