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GoPrint: Slightly Slower, Much Greener

April 17, 2008 at 12:30 am
By Margaret Taylor '10

Whoa! New technology! Craziness! Last term, an unbidden window popped up on every computer screen in the CMC labs. With its perky label, GoPrint cheerily demanded (in maize and blue font, of course) for your username and password each time you clicked “Print.” Once at the printers, a laptop with an ominous looking card-swiping box instructs you to swipe your OneCard to release the print jobs. Thus was the end of the 2-minutes-before-class-paper-print.

Starting April 3, the GoPrint windows and the cardswiper laptops started showing up in a lot more computer labs on campus. They’re part of a program from ITS to reduce Carleton’s print waste. In the past few years, the print volume at Carleton’s public lab computers was distressingly high. During the last school year (06-07), the computer lab printers turned out an average of 42,000 pages per day. That’s a lot of chopped up trees. To deal with this problem, Carleton formed a Print Management Committee to look into ways to reduce print volume. They investigated a number of print management software programs, and GoPrint was the winner.

Last term the committee installed GoPrint in the CMC labs as a test period. Because the program was highly successful (printing volume went down by 30%), Carleton is gradually phasing in GoPrint over the entire campus.

So why does all the extra card-swiping and password punching work? GoPrint does not require students to pay to print or limit them to a quota. Kevin Chapman from ITS explained that the decrease in print volume comes out of waste printing – pages that students didn’t mean to print in the first place. The following scenario has probably happened to all of you: you send your document to a printer only to find that it is choked up. It’s out of paper, on the blink, or dealing with the dozens of other print jobs that came before yours. So you go back to your computer and print the document out to a different printer. But in the old system, the first document that you sent out will eventually get printed and go to waste. GoPrint gives you the option to delete that duplicate document from the queue, thus saving paper and energy!

Students have other concerns about GoPrint, namely privacy. Suppose you’re a burly member of the Carleton rugby team, but you have a secret passion for ice dancing. If you print out an article about this from a computer lab, will somebody from SCIC find out about it and ruin your rough-and-tough reputation forever? Chapman wants to make it clear that this is not the case. “Whatever we can gather will be strictly numbers. We're looking for patterns of use in various locations, times of year, times of term, etc. What we are not looking at is content or individuals. We have no interest whatsoever in what people are printing. And at 14,000+ pages a day, reviewing content would be a crazy overhead on time and resources.”

It is too soon for ITS to give official statistics on print volume yet. However, my own observation has been that the public computer labs are usually the noisiest places on campus. The printers operate more or less continuously, cranking out sheet after sheet of paper at maximum capacity. This term, however, it’s been oddly quiet. Perhaps it’s worth the extra print time.