A reader is troubled by the increasing use of impersonal online application systems for faculty positions, and finds the process disappointing, given the momentousness of the occasion, and would even prefer to mail a paper application (although correctly recognizes that doing so would likely result in an overworked staff person having to scan and compile the document into a pdf for the committee).
For me -- i.e., someone who got her first academic jobs in the Paper Era -- there was nothing particularly satisfying about sending off a physical application, including a CV printed in a carefully-chosen font on heavy weight, watermarked, acid-free, ivory linen paper with matching envelope. The result is the same. You get back a form letter or e-mail, either a week later or seconds later, acknowledging receipt of your application. Then you wait and hope that rumors will trickle back to you that your letter writers have been asked to write letters. And then you wait some more etc. The main events on the application trail are the same, even if the first step has changed in form.
I have no experience with applying for a job via an online system, but, although I can imagine that this process can be a bit 'dehumanizing', I think overall I would enjoy the convenience of this type of submission process. As someone who has used online application systems to hire postdocs and temporary staff, and who has been on faculty hiring committees that used these systems, I definitely appreciate the convenience.
I would much rather read applications as pdf files on my laptop wherever and whenever I want, instead of spending many hours in a small room rifling through files. I also like the convenience of having all the relevant files in the same format in an organized way. Imagine reading A LOT of these files. The elegance of someone's choice of paper or font for a printed CV is completely lost on a reader who has to read many of these things.
Seven hours into a marathon application-reading and discussing session today, what was left of my brain wondered which was more exhausting -- reading applications or grading. Even if I were lucid, I probably couldn't decide that right now.
7 years ago