Re: Is Hypertext More Productive?

Subject: Re: Is Hypertext More Productive?
From: Mike Pope <mikep -at- ASYMETRIX -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 1994 11:58:00 PST

>Some time ago, someone here posted a message which included a quotation to
>the effect: "Software companies aren't driven by their users; they're
>by technology." (I think the word "geek" was in there somewhere, too.)
>I claim that the push to all-online docs is part of this. My experience
>does not support any assertion that users mostly want to do away with paper
>docs in favor of online help.

I don't think that software companies as a whole give a lot of thought to
paper-vs.-online in the
way that technical writers do. I believe somewhat in the idea that software
companies like online
help because it's new and interesting, but I don't think that's the whole of
it. What software companies
do think about these days, though, is cost, and reducing the number and size
(or even existence) of those
expensive books in the package is a very, very tempting way to try to reduce
costs. It would be unfair to accuse every software company of the same
"reduce cost uber alles" thinking, but I think it's wise not to assume that
our reasons for investigating print-free documentation are necessarily the
same reasons that
management encourages us to pursue these technologies. The test case, never
to occur, would
be if an influential study determined without qualification that books were
better than
online docs.

What's best for the user? Let the user decide. What we'll see is more and
more online with a print "option", at, of course, additional cost to the
consumer. Prefer books? Sure, just order one from our customer
service department ...

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