.WWF "Green" File Format Won't Reduce Your Printing (But E-Ink Could)

World Wildlife Fund sent a newsletter out earlier this week for Earth Day which encouraged people to reduce printing by adopting a new file format: .WWF It would seem that the "Think before you print" campaign and the increasing digitization of the workplace have not realised the elusive "paperless office" we've been hearing about since computers entered our lives.

How does it work?

Much like a standard Adobe .PDF file, .WWF is intended to be used to save and view electronic versions of documents. Unlike the PDF, WWF cannot be printed. It can be viewed using most PDF readers, and created using a WWF plug-in available on the Save as WWF website.

Print less but create more

Part of the "selling feature" is that WWF can handle immeasurable amounts of pages. I guess they figure that volume will be the key driver to reducing the tendency to print. I'm not sure I see the correlation; it's still a file format for "printing" docs, so each doc will only be as long as it needs to be. If PDF has not convinced people to read on the screen, I'm not sure a non-printable PDF is going to do it. Clearly there is an issue in viewing docs electronically that makes people want to see them on paper. And making the electronic version of the doc limitless in size is not going to ease its readability on the screens most people are using.

Going a step further: Changing the Screen

Going paperless is likely going to require a change in the devices we use to consume content. A big difference between e-readers (like the Kobo and Kindle) is that the e-ink they use is less strenuous on the eyes than the standard black on white we tend to stare at on our computer screens at home and at work.

Instead of trying to create new file formats, maybe e-readers should be considered as replacements for our desktops at work and at home. Or maybe our computer screens could have the ability to convert into e-reader mode when we're switching from content creation tasks (like email and writing docs) to consumption tasks (like reading and editing).

Now I would bet THAT would reduce printing. So why haven't I heard of anyone working on it? (Insert conspiracy about profits to be lost by forestry and paper companies here.)

Although I think it only addresses the symptom and not the cause, you can find out more about WWF files by watching this:

So what do you think? Will you use it? Do you think it will it make a difference? Would you switch to e-ink if it was an option for you at work?

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