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Subject:Online vs. Paper From:Michael LaTorra <mikel -at- HUEY -dot- ACCUGRAPH -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 20 Dec 1994 15:00:13 MST
Patrick O'Connell, while writing on Mon, 19 Dec about using Mosaic as
an online viewing engine, opined in passing:
>Never mind the FIRST hurdle: getting people weaned from paper-based,
>bound docs. Hell, *I* still prefer the heft and presence of bound
>manuals; how am I supposed to convince *users* that online docs
Caryn Rizell then addressed this point directly:
>I got to thinking the other day about the reasons that
>we are putting our documentation online. Are we doing
>it to give the customer easier access to help, or are
>we doing it to save our company money in printing costs?
My opinion is that we are doing some of both, but that potential
cost-savings are what is really driving online as the exclusive doc.
The relative inexpensiveness of online documentation makes it much
more attractive to the corporate bottom line types than it is to
users. Users, including tech writers, like online help, but
most of them (us!) are *married* to printed manuals.
A few months ago I began a thread about the online/paper
documentation issue. Here is the relevant portion of my summary
of that thread:
> The central question is this: If you could have a comprehensive,
> hypertext help on your computer -- a help window that can
> remain open even while you are doing other things in the
> underlying application -- would you still want a paper manual?
The overwhelming majority of respondents want some kind of paper manual,
even if it's brief. Apparently, though online help is desirable, few
people believe it is currently sufficient.
TOTAL NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS = 17
RESPONDENTS IN FAVOR OF RETAINING PAPER MANUALS = 15
RESPONDENTS IN FAVOR OF GOING COMPLETELY ONLINE = 2
Live long & prosper,
mikel -at- accugraph -dot- com
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