Re: Publications on Computer - pros/cons

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sat, 11 Jun 1994 13:09:15 +1000

> It's still easier to read, study, and annotate a text on paper than on a CRT.

It was only after years of using computers that I finally got into
the habit of reading material on-line - now I only print stuff out if
I'm editing it or I want to read it on the train. It is definitely
easier to annotate text on paper. I'd like to predict that hypertext
and notebooks and suchlike will make this less of a problem, but I'm
not confident.

> Paper also tends not to disappear at the press of a button or spike on
> the line. Even more problematic is the fact that electronic text takes
> hundreds of kilobytes to render drawings, figures, and graphs. (A picture
> may be worth 1000 words, but is it worth 100,000?) To send text with
> illustrations via e-mail occupies a lot of cyberspace.

If you want bit-mapped graphics it is expensive; but you should be
able to get simple diagrams and graphs more cheaply. (So if I turn
troff/pic files into postscript they sometimes increase hundredfold
in size.)

Remember that the available bandwidth is increasing fast, too. Networks
are likely to be able to support real time video in the not so distant
future; static pictures aren't nearly as bad.

> I notice that in a recent edited volume, MIT Press is requiring submissions
> to be "camera ready." This could save a lot of time, as I recall
> being co-editor of a volume that was at least a year delayed because of
> re-entering text on a publications workstation. This requires us to keep up
> with Word Processing software, but that price is low compared to the time and
> thought writing an article in the first place.

It also means you need to do your own editing, or get someone to do it
for you (small self-advertisement: I will copy-edit papers or books for
reasonable rates). Personally I think publishers will lose a lot of
prestige if they don't put the effort into guaranteeing decent editing.

With modern word-processing software there should be no need for
re-keyboarding text; complicated layouts involving pictures and equations
are another matter.

Danny Yee.