I think my aversion to using more paper is more from a 'wasting resources/materials' / 'environmentalism' feeling. Just wanted to throw in another data point.

13Qiaochu_Yuan2yWell, but I'm curious where you were exposed to the idea that you shouldn't waste paper. For me it was in, y'know, school. By the way, the whole concept of wasting paper is propaganda. Using paper does not in any sense kill trees. Paper is mostly made from trees that are farmed, which means that when you use more paper, you increase the demand for trees, so the market responds by supplying more trees.

Businesses also push this anti-paper propaganda. I'll cop to pushing an anti-paper agenda too at work, tho in my case it's because my job should be to provide them with better tools that would obviate them from needing to continually print spreadsheets to visualize whatever.

Paper Trauma

by Qiaochu_Yuan 1 min read31st Jan 201863 comments

134


Andrew Critch thinks people should be spending more time than they currently are using paper as a working memory aid while thinking, especially large paper (for even more working memory). It is really astonishing how helpful this can be. We consistently encourage people to do it at CFAR workshops nearly every time they learn a new technique or attempt to debug themselves or each other.

Paper is both very helpful and very easy to use - so why aren't people already using it all the time (including me)? I have a few vivid memories of times at CFAR workshops where I had to prod two people who were having a cognitively intensive conversation to use paper as shared working memory, and by "people" I mean CFAR instructors. It's harder than it looks.

My guess is that people have unresolved aversions to paper coming from school, where paper was how other people forced you to do things like homework and tests.

Really, it's horrifying to think about how much of what you've written down on paper was entirely forced on you.

So, you'll need to do some work if you want to reclaim the right to write whatever you want on paper, instead of whatever you've been trained to write. Good luck. Here are some words to take with you on your way.

Just because you are writing on paper does not mean you are still in school.

Nobody is going to grade you.

This is not homework. This is not a test.

This is your mind.

This is your life.

Think.