Paperless’s Steam Engine Time

7thNov. × ’11

After posting my writeup about giving a paperless presentation, I’m seeing all sorts of follow-up everywhere. Which is how many of these things work.

While this article about running a business from an iPad is a serious (and unrelated) workflow, the opening paragraphs gets to the crux of why I’m interested in exploring giving a paperless presentation: the enforced minimalism (har!) of iOS. As I mentioned to rogue composer and wizard Erik Schoster, this may be obsoleted when I eventually replace my stalwart white Macbook with an Air. Nonetheless, the iPad will likely always be lighter than a full laptop and Apple has dropped subtle hints that iOS might be their roadmap for the future.

One caveat I forgot to mention was that in order for my presentation to be totally paperless I eschewed a handout. I didn’t worry about it this time because I handout didn’t make any sense. Unlike my previous paper, which consistently referred back to a small number of figures, each slide was only applicable when I was talking about it. However a number of the scholars at the upcoming AMS hoedown in San Francisco are offering their handouts beforehand to mitigate the amount of printing involved. What’s so great about all these devices is that a speaker can make a reasonable assumption that there are enough of them in the audience to make such things worthwhile.1

This wonderful (and lengthy) interview with William Gibson from the Paris Review introduced me to term “steam engine time”, that a idea for which all the parts have existed suddenly explodes into existence/relevance. The difference here is that the concept of a “paperless office” has been yammered about for at least twenty years. It’s neat to see it actually happen.

  1. I can attest to the fact that last year in Indianapolis, the then five-month-old iPad was everywhere.
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