By Nitin Borwankar
One of noticeable differences between working in a conventional office and a cafe is the complete absence of printing and faxing capabilities in the latter. Most of the time this is not an issue as we WebWorkers are primarily working on electronic content for execution (software), publishing (articles/docs) or communication (email/IM).
But, every so often arises, with irritating insistence, a need for printing something, signing it and faxing it back. At this point I have to either work out of home – and plug in that printer and fax machine for a bit, or going to FedEx Kinko’s or something similar locally. Every time I do that I find myself wanting a better way.
Here’s a WebOffice feature that I would like. When someone sends me a doc to sign – they should be willing to accept a digital version of my handwritten signature. Not a digital signature as in public key cryptography, but a scanned image of my physical signature, embedded in the document. I want technology to make this foolproof. I can password protect double triple encrypt the image on my laptop. But how do I prevent my embedded signature from being extracted and abused?
EchoSign, which recently won the best of show award at office 2.0 has a pretty good interim solution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t solve the bigger problem. EchoSign’s solution also requires docuemnt sender to agree to accept digitally signed docs – the law says they have to, but try having that conversation with the Insurance company, or the DMV, or the IRS. So it seems a bit of a non-starter for now. In Three years from now, hopefully things will happen this way. (How EchoSign Works?)
Maybe I am thinking of the wrong solution. But this problem, printing-signing-faxing, is a nagging drag on my web worker mobility. As I write this I am expecting a faxed doc from my car insurance, and need to sign and fax a couple of documents. No, doing business only with people who don’t use paper is not an option, yet.
So how do you address this paper problem in your own personal WebOffice world?
Nitin Borwankar if the official GigaOm Tech Gnome.