Re: Online vs. Hardcopy documetation

Subject: Re: Online vs. Hardcopy documetation
From: Shmuel Ben-Artzi <sba -at- NETMEDIA -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 23:52:39 +0200


Back in the early '50s, every movie producer around was wringing their
hands, certain that they would be displaced by this new fad known as
television. Every one, that is, except Disney. Walt made a concerted,
proactive as always, effort to see how they could use this new medium not
*instead* of the theatrical experience, but alongside of it. In some case,
Walt Disney Productions found that existing product could be ported over
directly to the new medium. In most cases, whole new strategies needed to be
developed, whole new technologies created, whole new departments
established. As a result, WDP became a mover and shaker in both the film and
television industries.

The question isn't so much that of one of holding on to an "either/or"
viewpoint, but of deciding which can be used to best advantage in each
specific situation. Last year, for the first time, on-line encyclopedias
outsold bound copies. Encyclopedia Brittanica is now doing a major on-line
version designed especially to be a major player in the K-12 heirarchy.
(BTW, this is a perfect answer to those who don't feel that an on-line
strategy won't work for documents that must carry heavy TOCs and indexes.)

There will, for some time to come, be a solid place for those who choose to
specialize in printed docs. But the wave of the future, offering IMNSHO the
greatest opportunities for almost unlimited varieties of presentational
style, will be on-line multimedia.

You're right, David, when you say that the die will be irreversibly cast
within three years, but I still feel that the total metamorphasis of the
tech writing field will take closer to five. After all, even Bill Gates
predicts that the full impact and potential of the "information
superhighway" won't be realized for close to ten years.

Shmuel Ben-Artzi
Data Services Manager, Ulpan Akiva
Netanya, Israel
sba -at- netmedia -dot- net -dot- il

>You're the 2nd person to ask a question like this in the past week. Maybe
>I should revise my estimate that this kind of problem will overtake the field
>of Tech Writing in 3 years (but I think I'll wait a bit first....).

>David Blyth

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