Star Trek had it right


At the risk of sounding like a Trekkie (and at the double risk of saying something incorrect and attracting the venomous disdain of real ones), have you ever noticed that in the super advanced naval vessels of the future there is no paper? None.

No paper charts.
No wheel books.
No chits.
No copy machines (unless you classify the Holodeck as a copier)

They got it right, but I can’t imagine how long it took to finally get rid of the stuff. They flew around in the 23rd century. I’ll bet as late as the mid 22nd century there were still some old pubs in the cabinets on the bridge.

Because paper is hard to get rid of.

paper reduction

It is too bad, too, because I. hate. paperwork.

Always have, always will. It piles up. It clutters things. If done properly, paperwork takes time to research answers and put complete sentences together. Most people would like to see it just go away.

paper 120326-13routingcolor

If you are anything like I used to be, the primary reason to seek promotion was to elevate yourself high enough so that others had to do your paperwork for you.


Sadly, attaining a higher rank does not eliminate paper. It only changes the type of paper you have to process. Mostly, you are responsible for reviewing the work others have done.

Paper 121105-45allaboutyoucolor

Maybe, at some time in the future, we will finally be rid of the stuff. Imagine all the desk space that we’ll have! But it won’t come easy, and it won’t come quickly. Until that happy day, we are doomed to wallow in reams of documents waiting to be filed, signed, or forwarded.

There is only one place, really, where we can do our jobs without having to carry notebooks to carry all the handouts we receive at meetings.

Unfortunately, the Holodeck hasn’t been invented yet.


About Author


  1. In the fleet, No one ever gets serious about deploying until the flatbed shows up and the working party to onload cases of paper is called. As an Expeditionary Sailor, I always kept a ream in my “go-box”… Paperless Navy my eye…

  2. David Petri on

    Jeff – loved this. I would add one caveat though. If there is a 23rd century equivalent to Naval Reactors, there will still be paperwork. I imagine Gene Roddenberry probably never met Admiral Rickover.

  3. Everything with Rickover was by the book! No paper no book? Nope that just won’t fly in the Nuke navy no matter what century it is! I met Rickover once in 1976 from a distance. I was too busy running to keep up with everyone else!

Leave A Reply