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What’s In Your Attic?

I put my fax machine in the attic over the weekend. The fax machine works just fine. There was nothing wrong with it. My wife and I were cleaning out our home office to make room for baby (which arrives in November). And, we just didn’t use it any more. The attic seemed like a natural (final?) resting place. Farewell my fax machine.

I put my fax machine in the attic over the weekend.

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The fax machine works just fine. There was nothing wrong with it. My wife and I were cleaning out our home office to make room for baby (which arrives in November). And, we just didn’t use it any more. The attic seemed like a natural (final?) resting place.

Farewell my fax machine.

For many of you, this simple step of giving up a fax machine probably seems long overdue. Fax machines, while still a staple of many offices (and homes), are a relatively outdated technology after all – especially in a time when you can create, edit, share, even project whole presentations (even including audio and video) from a device no larger than your palm. You can pitch a story or create a whole media event without ever leaving your email. And of course, if you really need a piece of paper, you can ship original documents all over the world in a matter of hours for little cost, a far better option than a streaky, smudgy, reproduction of the original.

For me, the fax machine represented a type of work that I used to do. When I first started in the online space (after a ‘career’ in politics) the focus was on development – building sites and applications that people would want to visit and spend time with. Putting these projects together required reams and reams of documentation – draft after draft of lengthy blueprints offering each individual item and its proper functioning. For most of my clients, which were not savvy when it came to technology at all, I would have to print out the drafts and fax them off for review and approval. The process was slow, manual, and frustrating.

Over the years, the focus of my work has shifted. I still lead clients through the development of sites and applications, and there is still documentation required to manage those projects. But, I spend far more time helping clients to communicate – to build community, foster dialogue, and support interactions. We work to make information available. We develop experiences that an audience will find interesting. We produce, sell, and distribute stuff – without a single piece of paper.

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My clients have also become more sophisticated. They all use email (not all of them use it well, but they use it) and understand that communicating with today’s audience requires a sophisticated, cross-platform approach. They act quickly and decisively, aware that the world is moving faster and faster each day. And they experiment more – no document will fully capture how a site will be developed or a plan will unfold… they’d much rather get hands on.

As a result, the need for faxing has diminished – almost dried up completely.

I admit – it was difficult for me to put my fax machine up in the attic. I have had a fax machine in my home for as long as I can remember – it was as much a part of my work experience over the past ten years as anything. New models came along, new options were available – but the core technology remained the same — and remained useful. Now, times have changed and there is no need for me to hang on to that particular piece of technology any longer. So off to the attic it went.

Farewell my fax machine.

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