And the winner is … paper?

By Steve Weissman posted 02-21-2013 09:31


My wife and I saw the movie Argo last night as part of our run-up to the Oscars this weekend, and I couldn't help but be struck by one scene that perfectly framed the old argument over the relative security of paper vs. electronic documents.

(Yes, I know, it's a sickness. But come on, admit it: you see information management overtones everywhere you go, too, don't you!)

The scene I am talking about takes place at the airport in Iran, where an immigration officer attempts to match the yellow hard-copy of a form held by the traveler to the white original contained in a small box at his station. There is no need for a spoiler alert here because the thought that popped into my head really has nothing to do with the storyline. Instead, it struck me as a perfect example of an instance where paper content may in fact be more secure than its electronic counterpart, and that's what I want to share with you here.

Yes, I know: the box could be lost, or stolen, or catch fire, or be drenched by an overturned cup of coffee. But unlike today's systems, it couldn't be hacked either, and from that standpoint it actually may have been a better option than anything we have now.

Is this a rather narrow interpretation of document security and border control process efficiency? Of course it is. But it also serves as a good reminder that we should not immediately devalue paper as a storage mechanism because it has characteristics that may actually prove to be useful even in today's highly connected environments. The same is also true of other hard copy formats such as microfiche and microfilm, and it's worth remembering as we seek to better our mechanisms for managing information of all kinds – even if it wins us no awards.

#paper #Security #documentmanagement #ElectronicRecordsManagement #microfilm