Why Paper Jams Persist — The New Yorker

Why Paper Jams Persist — The New Yorker


There are so many excerpt-worthy quotes and stories this article; I can’t pick a single one to share.

Here’s one:

Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. “It’s the ultimate challenge,” Ruiz said.

And another:

“Paper isn’t manufactured—it’s processed,” Warner said, as we ambled among the copiers in a vast Xerox showroom with Ruiz and a few other engineers. “It comes from living things—trees—which are unique, just like people are unique.”

And one more:

At a hip Rochester restaurant called Nosh, Viavattine held the menu up to the light to assess its “flocculation” (the degree to which its fibres had clumped infelicitously together). He launched into a fabulous paper-jam war story. “I was asked to go to Chicago to visit the Chicago children’s court,” he said. “This was the mid-nineties, and a sales rep had put our printers—I think they were 400 Series—all over the court system. What was happening was, lawyers had to deliver certain court documents to the defense attorneys within a certain amount of time. Otherwise, the defendant was let go. And they were losing two out of three cases because of paper jams.” He paused. “Two out of three defendants were gone—walking out the door—because of paper jams!”

Ruiz looked both fascinated and skeptical. “So, just so I understand—the repeated jams were delaying the process so much that—?”

“That two out of three times they would be late, and the defendant would be released!” Viavattine said. “And the problem was that they were using some off-brand, really down-in-the-dumps paper.”

The whole article is just wonderfully, delightfully geeky.