We think we live in the electronics age, but some of the most important information about us is still passed along by paper.

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Photo by BrokenSphere [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

It’s amazing how many processes that are critical to our well being are based on paper. You’d think that in 2019, long after the events of the Hill Valley court house, that we’d be using electronic communication and that paper would be a relic. However, go to the basement of any real court house and you’ll see people lined up or waiting for their turn to file hard copy documents.

At least in Ontario, many legal proceedings require either quadruplet printouts of all the court filings, affidavits, statements, etc. These have to be physically carried, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, to be served with the opposing party and then filed in the court.

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Screen shot from Back To The Future 2 of Marty getting fired through various media.

This past week, a family member was dealing with the nightmare of a requisition form not being faxed from a doctor’s office to a specialist. At least here, almost no doctors communicate with patients through email or through some web interface. Fax is still king. Or phone… just don’t leave a message.

efax services seem like a strange intermediary. You email your fax as an attachment with the fax number as the address @somedomain.com or in the subject line. Received faxes at a virtual number are emailed as an attachment.

There is a generation that came to significant milestones in their careers when faxes were the rage and the fax gained a strong foothold in bureaucracies. This is my theory. At the time, faxes were a huge advance over couriering documents and it was a big accomplishment to get them into an office or system after years of campaigning.

However, things stagnated. Even today, with some offices allowing for the emailing of information, the processes still vary a lot. Some places say to email to an address, some to attach a form.

Documents are not going away… and document handling is not a flashy area to work. However, cleaning up this sludge will help us move a lot faster as a society.

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Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at http://linkedin.com/in/grebler

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