Re: why manuals?

Subject: Re: why manuals?
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 1994 16:22:32 EDT

Chuck Martin writes:
>Will online information replace print? I like the way William Horton
>put it in his book _Designing and Writing Online Information_:

> "Online documents have not replaced paper documents and probably will
> not until we have online documents as efficient as this one:

> "High-density, lap-top information display device. Nonvolatile memory
> with zero power consumption. Able to display text and graphics at
> 1250 dots per inch resolution in monochrome or up to 32,000 colors on
> a 100 mega-pixel display. Features simple, intuitive, direct-
> manipulation user-interface with both sequential and random access
> mechanisms. Functional at temperatures from -120 to +451 degrees F."

I have heard this quote before, and I believe William Horton overstates
the case. Of course online will never match these criteria. The question is
which of these characteristics are truly important, and how close a match
has to be, to be good enough. I, personally, don't know anyone who reads
books at +450 degrees F. At that temperature, you've got other things to
worry about besides plot development.

Try this on for a paraphrase:

"Paper documents have not replaced stone tablets and probably will not until
we have paper documents as efficient as this one:

"Durable, all-weather interface, legible at any temperature short of lava.
No power consumption, no infrastucture necessary to produce or display
information. Capable of three-dimensional displays up to half an inch in
depth. Completely intuitive interface, impossible to steal from a library,
can be read under water, in the dark with your fingers, will outlast your

Yeah, but I just want to read a _book_...

Electronic documents cannot provide every feature of a printed book. But I
think they provide enough of the features, and enough additional features,
to make their prevalence and and cultural dominance inevitable. A car, after
all, is not a horse; and yet engine-driven transportation has quite definitely
replaced horse-powered transportation as the dominant mode, world-wide.

Take care,

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

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