Rochester’s own Xerox Corporation just came up with a great new invention: erasable paper, for those you-only-have-to-read-it-once messages. Within a day, the paper erases itself and you can reuse it! Thrilled, the cutesy Rochester Democrat and Chronicle used a fading headline to announce the innovation. No, they’re not going to sell it right now, it will take a few years to get to market. But when it does, just think of all the paper it will save!
There was a time when a more naïve Sheepandgoats would have lapped up every word of this hype, but no more. Weren’t PCs supposed to bring about this same huge paper saving? Yes they were, and, spurred on by anticipated savings, companies which once distributed documents only to those two or three who needed to see them instead sent an e-copy to every employee who could read, only to find that each recipient promptly printed out a hard copy.
And what about the internet? Wasn’t that also supposed to conserve paper? Alas, starry-eyed scientists discovered too late that there is no joke too asinine, no story too sappy, to not copy and paste and send to everyone in your address book, each of whom also must print a hard copy.
Sheepandgoats predicts that this invention too will squander paper, not save it. Exactly how he can’t yet say, he just has faith in man’s infinite capacity to screw things up. Perhaps, as with PCs, the new paper will spur ever more messages. Why not, since the cost is negligible? “So-and-so is going to the bathroom.” No announcement will be too trivial! Then, after messages have proliferated, some recipients will complain that they’ve missed some, since not everyone reads incoming drivel right away, but puts it aside till they get a minute, which may come days or weeks or months later. Missed messages! We can’t have that. The obvious solution: don’t use the newfangled stuff, but use good ‘ol chop-a-tree-down paper that doesn’t go belly up on you.
That’s not all. There‘s no end to potential abuses. Already, that lazy lout Tom Pearlsandswine has exploited the new technology, and its not even out yet. He bought a few reams of blank paper, distributed it via office mail to coworkers and supervisors alike, claimed to have done a ton of work, and, when informed he’d only sent blank sheets, blamed a defective beta version of the new erasable paper, which wiped out his work prematurely! But we’re all wise to that skunk by now. His incoming phone call was traced to the golf course.
Indeed, the only permanent customer Sheepandgoats can envision is the Impossible Mission Force, (IMF) which will use the new paper to give Tom Cruise his assignments.