Futurists have been claiming for decades now that new computers would lead to "paperless offices," but those predictions famously never seemed to pan out—office paper consumption doubled in the 1980s and 1990s. Until now, reports The Economist: " The explanation seems to be sociological rather than technological. A new generation of workers, who have grown up with e-mail, word processing and the internet, feel less of a need to print documents out than their older colleagues did." Moral of the story, maybe, is that we shouldn't give up on those techno-utopian visions that never seem to pan out. (Sort of like how, for a long time, energy experts were perpetually promising solar power was "just ten years away.")

--Bradford Plumer