on-line vs. paper

Subject: on-line vs. paper
From: Lisa Steinberg <aa075 -at- SEORF -dot- OHIOU -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 1994 12:21:13 -0500

Rick made a couple of good points regarding the use of on-line vs. paper
indexes/guides/whatever, and I agree with him on those points, especially
the part about learning to use paper media before we learn to use computer
media. Until society as a whole embraces electronic media, without paper
as a backup, paper guides will always be needed for users. Remember,
those of us who are on this list are already pretty versatile in the use
of computers. Many of us learned the use of computers in college (or
earlier), and because only about 23% of Americans actually complete their
college undergrad degrees, the other 77% of the population will still,
most likely, rely on paper. We, as technical writers, really need to be
careful that we don't fall into the same mental trap that many programmers
have found themselves in regards to documentation and user-guides (i.e., *I*
know how it works, why can't other people figure it out?).

About seeing typos on paper more often than on the screen, I feel
this is partly a learned art and partly in our brains (any psychology
folks out there who might be able to contribute to this discussion?).
I've found that through the 8 or so years I've been avidly writing/editing
documents produced on a computer, I've increasingly been able to catch
typos and spelling mistakes on the screen. At first, I *HAD* to have
paper copy in order to edit, now I don't necessarily have to use paper.
In fact, I really need to edit on-line because if I feel the need to
suggest major changes to a document, I can more easily insert comments
on-line than on paper. Because my handwriting is sooooo awful for anyone
(including myself) to read, on-line editing has become my preferred method
of catching typos and other mistakes.


* lisa steinberg :) *
* Grantswriter for Rural Action *
* A non-profit sustainable community development *
* organization based in: *
* Athens, Ohio *
* aa075 -at- seorf -dot- ohiou -dot- edu *
* Volunteer in Service to America and proud of it! *

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