Stephen L. Talbott,  The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending The Machines In Our Midst
Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly and Associates; 1995
ISBN 1565920856
Pages 5 and 50

Where freedom once required the fateful exercise of an enlightened, heart-warmed will, it is now enough to play with clickable choices on a screen.... All the talk about individual empowerment through electronically accessible information really has more to do with the differential advantage for a few players early in the game than it does with any fundamental social change.

Shenk, David.  Data smog : Surviving the Information Glut
San Francisco: Harper, 1997
ISBN: 0062515519
Page 23

I can vaguely recall a phone conversation with a college girlfriend shortly after graduation, which she complained about her office fax machine, yet another appliance sweeping the nation. It wasn’t that her fax didn’t work, but rather that it was working too well. Because it transmitted information across the country and world so quickly, she said, it had actually altered the expectations of work time, becoming a kind of taskmaster that insisted on faster and faster work.

Page 30-1

From Earl Shorris,  A Nation of Salesmen

The Paper Chase

The paperless office is still a distant dream. In the interim, we should be recycling more and developing alternatives to wood-based paper.

By Jim Motavalli

While many futurists predicted that we?d be enjoying the paperless office around this time, Americans are still at the epicenter of a paper blizzard. Were you under the impression that the electronic age would free us from all that? According to The Myth of the Paperless Office, a company?s use of e-mail causes an average 40 percent increase in paper consumption.

The demand for ream after ream of white paper is putting a huge strain not only on America?s forests, but the world?s. And it?s forcing the environmental movement to consider the alternatives.

Dear EarthTalk:

What happened to the "paperless office" that computers were supposed to create, and what is the environmental impact of our paper usage?
-- Michelle Barnes, Virginia Beach, VA

The paperless office does appear to still be a distant dream. A recent University of California-Berkeley study found that, worldwide, the amount of printed matter generated between 1999 and 2002 not only did not decrease--it grew by 36 percent. The quantity of information we now store electronically is growing in leaps and bounds. And while we're using less paper as a percentage of total data output, we're still using more paper. "Contrary to notions of paperless offices floated by futurists in the late 1980s and early 1990s," the report said, "the consumption of office paper has gone up substantially in recent years."

Tenner, Edward,  Why Things Bite Back : Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences
New York: Vintage Books, 1996
ISBN 0679425632
Page 188

According to one study by the economist Stephen Roach, investment in advanced technology in the service sector grew by over 116 percent per worker between 1980 and 1989, while output increased by only 0.3 percent to 1985 and 2.2 percent to 1989. Two other economists, Daniel E. Sichel of the Brookings Institution and Stephen D. Oliner of the Federal Reserve, have calculated the contribution of computers and peripherals as no more than 0.2 percent of real growth in business output between 1987 and 1993.

Architecture Magazine December, 1999

Number of sheets of paper each U.S. worker uses per year:   5,400

Percentage of “stuff” stored in workplaces never used or referred to:   30
Percentage of workers who say they are chronically angry on the job:   25
Average number of people murdered in U.S. offices each week:   20

Facilities Design & Management  “Fax Inefficiency Plagues Corporate America” 
July 1994
Page 14

“Lack of awareness concerning fax telephone costs continues to plague most U.S businesses,” says Meredith Fischer, vice president marketing, Pitney Bowes Facsimile Systems. “The majority of fax users don’t connect expanding department telephone costs with increased fax traffic. Since they don’t get the bill, it doesn’t register.” The study reports that more than 60% of fax transmissions are sent long distance; less than 5% of respondents send fax transmissions during the evening or night when it is most cost-efficient; 40% of the respondents do not bill back or do not know if they bill back charges to a client, their department, or themselves; and fewer than 30% of respondents have ever used time-saving fax features, such as multi-tasking, sequential broadcasting, and relay broadcasting.

Bottom line Insights

"A 1993 Gallup study reports fax volume has jumped 44% at Fortune 500 companies in the last year."

J.D. McClatchy, The Vintage Book Of Contemporary World Poetry
New York: 1996
ISBN 0679741151
Translated from the Chinese by Carolyn Kitzer
Page 431

“Assembly Line”


Yes, I’m numb to my own existence
As if, like the trees and stars
perhaps just out of habit
perhaps just out of sorrow,
I’m unable to show concern
For my own manufactured fate.

London, Jack. The People of the Abyss
Stylus Publishing. Chapter 17: Inefficiency
ISBN 0745314155
Page 2

Without going further into the argument, this man on the Mile End Waste pointed the moral that when two men were after the one job wages were bound to fall.

When there are more men than there is work to be done, a sifting-out process must obtain. In every branch of industry the less efficient are crowded out. Being crowded out because of inefficiency, they cannot go up, but must descend, and continue to descend, until they reach their proper level, a place in the industrial fabric where they are efficient. It follows, therefore, and it is inexorable, that the least efficient must descend to the very bottom, which is the shambles wherein they perish miserably.

Ritzer, George.  The McDonaldization of Society: an Investigation into the Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life
1990. ISBN 0803990766
Page 123

Although the forces of McDonaldization trumpet their greater efficiency, they never tell us whom the system is more efficient for. Most of the gains in efficiency go to those who push rationalization. People need to ask: Efficient for whom? Is it efficient for consumers to push their own food over the supermarket scanner and then bag it themselves? Is it efficient for people to pump their own gasoline? Is it efficient for them to push numerous combinations of telephone numbers before they speak to a human voice? Most often, people will find that such systems are not efficient for them.

McDonaldization "Sociology Corner." 
website www.sciology.net/mconald/efficiency.html (dead link)

With the salad bar, you are not limited by what the cook wants to put in the salad, and ATMs allow you to do your banking any time you want, unhindered by inefficient bank hours. However, keep in mind, that both of these serve to reduce the level of human interaction. Consumers are forced to deal with computers or salad bars and not people, training them to be better workers for the McDonaldized society.

Bob Black, “The Abolition of Work

As Adam Smith noted in Wealth of Nations, “The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations... has no occasion to exert his understanding... He generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

Anonymous Swiss folk tale

Once, long ago, deep in the Black Forest, lived a monk. He was a cobbler and it was his job to make and repair shoes for the neighboring monasteries. He knew all the feet of all the monks in the land and sang all day long. Then one day it was decreed that he should count all his costs for each and every shoe. He counted all the nails, all the pieces of leather, all the threads, and accounted for all his time. His joy left him and he sang no more.

Dewey, John.  Democracy and Education
Macmillan, 1916
Chapter Nine: “Natural Development and Social Efficiency as Aims

Translated into specific aims, social efficiency indicates the importance of industrial competency. Persons cannot live without means of subsistence; the ways in which these means are employed and consumed have a profound influence upon all the relationships of persons to one another. If an individual is not able to earn his own living and that of the children dependent upon him, he is a drag or parasite upon the activities of others. He misses for himself one of the most educative experiences of life.

Winner, Langdon. The Whale and the Reactor : A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology
University of Chicago Press: 1988
ISBN 0226902110
Page 116

The point of many applications of microelectronics, after all, is to eliminate social layers that were previously needed to get things done. Computerized bank tellers, for example, have largely done away with small, local branch banks, which were not only ways of doing business, but places where people met, talked, and socialized.


The so-called electronic cottage industry similarly, operates very well without the kinds of human interactions that once characterized office work. Despite greater efficiency, productivity, and convenience, innovations of this kind do away with the reasons people formerly had for being together, working together, acting together

Time July 27 1998, “Milestones,” Page 19

40 Years it took radio to gain 50 million domestic listeners.

13 Years it took television and cable to gain 50 million domestic viewers.
  4 Years it took the World Wide Web to get 50 million domestic users.

Doors of Perception Conference 4 - SPEED - Speaker Transcript - Stephen Kern: “The Culture of Speed
Updated 19-12-1996
www.doorsofperception.com/doors/revamped_frameset.html (dead link)

But there were also critics. In English the word ‘phoney’ came from early descriptions of artificial sound of voice on the phone and by implication the artificiality of what was said without the enrichment of face-to-face encounters.

Lewis Mumford,  The Pentagon of Power: The Myth of the Machine
New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970
Page 297

The electronic media have shown what a heavy price must be paid for even the simulation of multi-dimensioned intercourse. In genuine communication every agent has its own role to play: the visible gesture, the direct spoken word, the written message, the painting, the printed book, the radio, the phonograph record, the tape recorder, television. Instead of replacing these varied multi-media by television, radio and the computer alone, a mature and efficient technology would strive to keep them all in existence, each for the performance of its appropriate function in the chosen situation.

Collins, Jim. “Talking To Your Hand, Or Is That Your Phone?
US Airways Attache February 1998.
Page 33-4

By the end of today, 30,000 new people will join the ranks of cellular phone owners; by this time next year, the American army of users alone will have grown by close to ten million. No electronic product has ever been accepted more quickly or bought more eagerly: not the fax machine, not the color TV, not the VCR. In high-school hallways and on city sidewalks, at poolside and in airport restaurants, in commuter lanes and on remote mountain peaks, the cell phone has become the symbol of the ‘90s.