Re: Why manuals?

Subject: Re: Why manuals?
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 22:45:35 EDT

Kat Nagel writes:
>...and until Sony makes a Bookperson <grin> that lets me

I want to be sure we don't dismiss the capabilities of current technology.
There are online docs that allow you to add notes (I believe Windows help
has this capability, and so does OS/2, although it hasn't been used much).
Marking pages for easy reference is also a standard help system feature,
that's been around for even longer than electronic annotation. I don't
know if the existing line of electronic books (as distinct from portable
computers) supports annotation, but I'm sure they support page-marking.

While the current implementation of annotation and page-marking in online
docs probably seems unwieldy and confusing compared to a standard paperback,
this is changing as we speak, because:

1) the interfaces are improving. Pretty soon you'll be able to annotate
that text with a recording of your voice, if you prefer. You'll be able
to add pointers to other parts of the document, or to other documents,
by pointing or talking or drawing a line or scribbling a reference...
whatever you prefer. This is all available today, just not packaged
and marketed (as a book, rather than an authoring system).

2) people will become familiar with the new medium. The main reason books
appear so gosh-darn perfect for annotating and marking pages is because
we're used to them. But once we get gosh-darn used to computers, we'll
wonder why we ever thought books were good for that. After all, there's
only so much white space in the margins. And you can only see one marked
page at a time. And you can't mark smaller or larger chunks, like a paragraph
or a chapter, in a way that's visible from other pages. And so on....

Maybe the Sony Bookperson can't support page marking and annotation (and I
say maybe because I don't know - maybe they already do), but I guarantee
it's big sibling the desktop computer does support these features.

And the Bookperson will inevitably get the big sibling's hand-me-downs.

Take care,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's

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