X for Xerox

No organization in the world has ever become so synonymous with the product it produces as Xerox. No organization has also been as much of a boon to Mumbai University engineers as Xerox.

Photo-copiers, since its inception, have become a standard staple of office equipment in most companies. They are frequently used to make copies of important reports, some of which may be distributed, while others go into archives. Photo-copiers revolutionized the way information is processed and stored. Gone were the days of the cumbersome task of manually copying reports and the manual maintenance of archives. Photo-copiers, known colloquially as “Xerox” in the third world, became the most preferred and dominant ways to replicate information and feed it across the vertical and horizontal channels of an organization. Never before was there such a fast and efficient way of communicating detailed reports and dossiers across an organization, business or government.

In the context of Mumbai University, Xerox has a special place in the hearts and minds of young boys and girls who have copious amounts to mug and write. Each year, thousands enroll in a 4 year debacle called “engineering”, consisting an assortment of 50+ subjects, each of which have detailed assignments and journals to write and plenty of facts to mug up. Without the boon of Xerox, most engineering students would say, it would be impossible to finish their engineering studies. For these students use the art of photo-copying extensively – they xerox assignments and journals with the view of plagiarizing them while writing their own journals. Such copying is done with extensive editing – a process colloquially referred to as “ghaapchi”. When exams are around the corner, students frantically xerox massive amounts of “notes” (not bank notes) borrowed from each other to form a mosiac, disconnected mass of material, from which they mug and assimilate and then blindly reproduce. Effective xeroxing is the key to becoming an effective engineer in Mumbai University.

The advent of the internet and the scalable ability of people to share information in the digital realm has no doubt dented the conventional process of sharing information via photo-copying. Furthermore, digital data has made paper data both obsolete and environmentally not preferred . Still, the process of photo-copying remains very much an integral part of the distribution and dissemination of information on the planet. Before wiki-leaks came into existence, the primary weapon of choice in the hands of whistle-blowers was photo-copiers. The leak of the “Pentagon Papers” by Daniel Ellsberg is one solid illustration of how photo-copiers were used for the dissemination of confidential information, often in the public interest.

Now the internet and the realm of digital data manipulation is carrying forward the work of Xerox into new domains and new horizons. No doubt, Xerox (photo-copying) has already lost a lot of relevance in today’s world and is increasingly in the wane. In a few years, it will become an ancient relic in the evolution of technology of communication. Not for Mumbai University engineers though. They will happily keep xeroxing assignments and journals and question papers in their last-ditch last-minute effort to finish term-work, write exams and graduate as half-baked engineers.

– Written by Guest Writer: Rajiv Iyer as a run-up to my 2nd blogoversary.

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