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"Tokyo homeless people reiterate the whole nature of living in Tokyo in cardboard boxes, they're only slightly smaller than Tokyo apartments, and they have almost as many consumer goods. It's a nightmare of boxes within boxes."
- William Gibson

Chalf (Quick-Scribe Powder)  
  A special powder that forms itself into words and symbols.  

Chalf is a truly unique idea. If you think about it, laser printer toner (the fine carbon material) is a similar powder, that is fixed onto the paper to form words and symbols. But, do you really need the paper?

McKie brought a white vial from his copious jacket, scattered metallic powder on the desktop.

Watt pushed himself back from his desk, eyeing the powder with suspicion. He took a cautious sniff, smelled chalf, the quick-scribe powder. Still...

"It's just chalf," McKie said. And he thought: If he buys that, I may get away with this.

"So scribe it," Watt said.

Concealing his elation, McKie held a chalf-memory stick over the dusted surface. A broken circle with arrows pointing to a right-hand flow appeared in the chalf.

From The Tactful Saboteur, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Galaxy in 1964
Additional resources -

Chalf also offered the devious Jorj X. McKie, saboteur extraordinary, with an opportunity to do what he did best. His boss, Clinton Watt, was right to be suspicious.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Tactful Saboteur
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to The Tactful Saboteur
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