TALKING ELECTRONICS
Interactive

Discussion-8

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PAPER Vs SCREEN
The printed page is possibly the most efficient form of presentation .  .  . nothing competes with its efficiency and cost.
However, when the infrastructure of a computer and internet connection are in place, we have a rival .   .   .  the computer screen.
Once the reader gets over the slight difficulty of reading a computer screen, the information it provides can be more-detailed than the printed page.
In addition, the computer has other advantages.
Information on the screen can be instantly updated, delivered to the entire world almost instantly, presented in a range of fonts and sizes to suit the reader, instantly translated and can contain colour photographs and drawings at no additional cost.
But best of all, the page is endless. The writer is not restricted to page-size or book-length.
As far as an educational-writer is concerned, the concept is perfect.
Writing a book is quite an effort.
Page size and formatting are an annoyance. Diagrams never seem to fit the page and all material must be ready at the same time for it to be published as an entity. Then there are delays in printing and distribution.
Writing a web-article is far easier.
Items can be presented as soon as they are written. They can be corrected and updated and any number of photographs and drawings can be included. 
The concept is fantastic.
Fortunately it has arrived.
Although the web is only in its infancy, there are hundreds of millions of articles sitting on servers around the world and fairly-good search-engine facilities are provided. The only problem is getting listed. Technical-only search-engines have faded away, so the technical articles get added to the other listings. This is something that may be addressed at a later date.
However, things are advancing at a phenomenal rate.
The latest report from a local university states they are including an ELECTRONIC LIBRARY in their expansions.
Some books will be available on shelves but the main presence will be storage in the form of CD's and high-speed web access.
You could say we are at the beginning of a revolution. A bit like witnessing the introduction of Guttenberg's printing press.
Digital storage will eventually take over from printed presentations in the technical world. Not only is it cheaper and more compact but it has the capability of being interactive.
By clicking links you can be directed to related pages, alternate CD's or other works. Items can be animated and background music or speech can be included.
As the acceptance of digital formatting increases, large technical works will cease to be released.
It's simple economics. Printing a 400 page book, delivering it to a retailer or posting to a customer - compared to burning and posting a CD.
A mini CD holds 180 Meg of data and costs less than $1.00 to post!
There is really no argument.
Digital will be taking over.
It suits everyone. Writers find it much easier to prepare material without the restrictions of the printed page. Material can be released as soon as it is prepared. Copies can be "burnt" as required. Postage and distribution costs are significantly lower. Updates can be provided on a website and feedback can be addressed.
I can see it coming and that's why I have streamlined everything along these lines.
All the information on our website is available on a mini
CD. Files on the website cannot be accessed "in bulk" for downloading, so the CD is the only way to have everything at your fingertips.
Using the CD is much faster than accessing the web. All pages are instantly available on the CD and you can instantly go to any of the links.
Our approach is far-ahead of anything I have seen and it would be nice to have some form of uniformity in this field so that files from all different sources can be merged. In this way a number of writers can combine to produce a larger work.
I have been advised that a number of schools will be transferring their courses to the web and I will let you know when these are available for viewing.
The only way for this concept to be successful is for everyone to combine and present their work together, rather than fragment it on a number of different servers.
Hopefully some very clever person will come up with a layout that will find universal approval.
When other contributors add to our library of projects, you will see how powerful the concept is.
You will be able to "home-in" on the minūtest detail and gets lots of information.
In the meantime I have provided a layout on the screen called "frames."
The main page occupies 70% of the screen-width and the index has been placed on the left-side of the screen.
When the main page is printed, the line-length is just right and the diagrams don't get cut off. The page is easy to read and overall it makes the site very easy to navigate.


For now,

Colin Mitchell