Online versus paper

Subject: Online versus paper
From: Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 14:53:18 EDT

I've got to agree with those who say that paper is not dead. A hundred years
from now, we may not be able to make that statement, but I hope that a hundred
years from now I'll be retired...

My previous employer (GE) bought a ton of software licenses for a database
package, then loaded the software onto PC's throughout the plant. It was a
big plant, about eight thousand employees. They didn't buy manuals for
everyone. In fact, I was never able to find -any- documentation that had
been produced by the software company, anywhere on the plant. I spent
several weeks trying to track down a copy, and finally gave up. With no
training sessions scheduled for months, I had no way of putting the
package to use. (And I could see that the potential for assisting me in
my job was enormous.) The on-line help with this database wasn't terribly
useful, it certainly had no "How to build a database from scratch"
information. Finally, I went to a book store, shelled out some of my
own money, and bought a third-party book. I started reading the book,
and learning the database. Within a few days, I was able to build a
useful database, within a couple of weeks I was "the department guru"
on the system. By the time I actually got to the training course two
months later, I was proficient enough to take a chunk of the work load
off the instructor.

And, specifically, for FrameMaker: I learned Frame in a two-day course,
but that course was all basics. Hypertext wasn't touched. I went on a
contract assignment, and found myself in a position to start working
hypertext. I pulled out the Frame manual, read the chapter, and started
inserting hyper links a few minutes later. I found that to be ironic:
In order to build an on-line help system in Frame, I had to fall back
on Frame's paper documents.

By the way, GE apparently buys its software licenses with the agreement
that employees may take home a copy for their own use (at least that's
what was told to me as I was handed a stack of floppies). This is another
area where the third party books come in handy. It's nice to be able to
work on things over the weekend, and not be stumped because the manual
is back at the office.

Rick Lippincott
I can send but not receive at work. Send personal comments to:
rjlippincott -at- delphi -dot- com

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