TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Princeton University Goes Digital - The Wrong Way

Re: Princeton University Goes Digital - The Wrong Way
8 Aug 2005 11:33:37 -0700

Tony P. wrote:

>> go online for a one-time download of
>> the textbook in PDF format.

This is another issue in the ongoing debate between conventional paper
and book records and electronic media.

My conclusion is "mixed". I've been doing library research with both
kinds of media. I also use both at work.

There are a lot of advantagess of online media: it takes up less
space, it's more easily or much more easily searchable, and one can
'cut and paste' selected portions faster and easier than writing them
down or making a photocopy.

But there are some disadvantages, too.

Traditional hardcopy (a book) is eye scannable. That means you can
see random things with your eyes that an electronic search will never
catch. A book is movabl e-- you can arrange it in different ways on
the table or on your lap or even in the bathroom, you can't do that
with a fixed terminal. Large format books are difficult to read on a
computer screen without constant size adjustment or screen scrolling
which gets dizzying after a short while.

For example, we have the telephone book available online. They come
up slowly and are hard to read. For such a reference it's faster to
use the real thing.

As the original article notes, there are many restrictions to the CDs
being offered which are significant disadvtgs to the book.

In the case of a textbook where you're reading the whole thing anyway
I don't see much advtg to CD. I see it more with reference works or

Microfilm saves tremendous space. That's significant since space is
costly and a large collection probably couldn't be housed. It also
lasts longer than paper, esp newsprint. However, it is a pain to
search through and look at. The problems of 'scrolling' a large image
over a screen remain.

Microfiche is a little bit better in terms of random access, but still
a pain.

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