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I think that all of these folks who are down on the electronic
portfolio might want to take a look at Dale Spender's "Nattering on
the Net: Women, Power and Cyberspace."
While the title makes it sound like a feminist manifesto, the text
really provides a very interesting comparison between the impact of
the new electronic media and the times during and after the invention
of the printing press.
Spender might well have categorized these electronic nay-sayers
as reminiscent of those (albeit talented) copyists who were sure that
these printing press things wouldn't take off; surely people would value
the beautiful manuscripts that they painstakingly created.
Anyways, for one, I would value an electronic portfolio. It is true that
portfolio material is often best presented in person. In my previous job,
we got ourself in trouble more than once by not being able to explain
prototypes to customers the first time they saw them. So even though it
was easy to put stuff up on the web, if we anticipated that there might
be resistance to a design, we scheduled a face-to-face meeting with the
client to make sure the design would be presented in a favorable light.
That said, however, I've often considered creating my own electronic
portfolio (just seems to never be enough time). It seems to me that an
opportunity to present good work will be rewarded. A portfolio, whether
it is electronic or print, that is only so-so won't really be improved
by a face-to-face presentation unless the candidate has some really
good sales skills. A good portfolio may well get a candidate into the
"call for interview" pile.
As is often said on the net, your mileage may vary.