Monday, April 16, 2007

Paper E-mail

Google's April Fool's Day gag this year was a new product launch called "Gmail Paper." The fake service basically ships you a paper copy of all the e-mails that come into your gmail account. I kinda chuckled at it, not thinking it too clever. Then, I realized something at school.

The information network for these Korean schools is pretty impressive. They have a system to keep track of students scores, general information, etc. I knew that one aspect of this system was a way to disseminate memos. Korean documents require stamps to be official. So, these memos are usually created at a computer, printed, stamped, and then scanned to be sent over the internet to all the schools that the document applies to.

Sounds very efficient right? No need to print hundreds of copies, stamp them, and mail them out. People can just look at the document online right? I even thought about it, and there would really only need to be one copy of the document stored in a central server that people access when they read it--like a secure webpage.

Here's what actually happens: The documents are sent out to all the schools. Then, the secretary prints a copy of all the documents out. So, on heavy memo days, they can be printing out fifty pages. This adds up of course. Then, the teachers read it, stamp it to show they read it, and then it goes into binders to be stored.

While this system is no where near what it could potentially be. It still uses the same amount of paper, but I guess it saves the costs of shipping right?

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