I used to laugh at the idea of the paperless office, over the last 20 years I have presided over a number of projects that I thought would reduce paper but actually increased usage, so I am pretty cautious now. However having seen for myself that the combination of a desktop scanner, 3 monitors and a Tablet PC can almost totally eliminate paper from my lifestyle I think there is a viable way forward. I have written a few posts on this topic myself, and have just come across a useful discussion of the topic over at Silicon.com, this comment was particularly useful:
Andy Jones, a director at Xerox Global Services, explains a crucial change in the way we use paper. “Thirty years ago paper was the definitive record of so many things that happened within business. Today it is increasingly the case that the electronic record is the definitive copy, while paper is becoming much more a work-in-progress medium,” he says.
I agree with the work in progress role of paper, and its this role that multiple monitors and a Tablet PC address. The Tablet is great for sketching, note taking, review and markup as well as reading on the plane/train. Multiple monitors avoid the need to use paper as a reference copy while you work on another document on a single PC display.