Thursday, May 28, 2009

Limitless paper in a paperless world

Or "Dunder Mifflin, I love you."

I keep reading about people scanning all their paper to .pdf files, and I think it's a great idea, in theory. I have a naming system for files now that I like a lot, and I almost always read articles in .pdf format now. I scan my conference notes to .pdf so that I'll actually use them (although I still look wistfully at the Pulse pen site.) When I print, I print duplex.

But (and you knew this was coming).

Every time I've changed from one computer to another, I have managed to lose some files. Every time, despite backups and my new best friend, Dropbox.

Today, I've been working on something that I had given a conference paper on about five years ago. Easy, right? Since I hadn't published that paper, I went to look for it in the computer folder where it should be, and it wasn't there, nor was it on the old computer, the backup drive, or anyplace else.

So I went searching down in the file cabinets in the basement. I keep a folder for each conference with conference notes, a program, and a copy of the paper I gave in chronologically-arranged file drawers. Sure enough, it was there under "2004 Conference Name." I brought it back upstairs, scanned it to a .pdf, and converted it to a text file, so I'd have it the next time I went looking on the computer.

The point is, though, that if I hadn't had the paper copy, I wouldn't have had any copy at all. This is at least the fourth time that I've had this experience. Maybe I'm unusually careless with saving work, or maybe these had gone up in smoke with some of the hard drive crashes I've had over the years, but whatever the cause, the paper copy has saved me every time.

I'm writing this down so the next time I get the urge to toss out all the folders and put everything on a jump drive, I'll think twice.

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