Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Death to digital ink
"Imagine a world without the printed page" begins A Cyberpublishing Manifesto by Hal Berghel. Several of Berhel's comments relate to the world of onscreen Help.
"Instead of serving up 19th century content on acid-free paper, we're serving up 20th century content on LCD screens. But the nature of the content is unchanged. In either paper or e-book form, the content remains static, the rendering still driven by the information provider rather then information consumer, nonlinear traversal continues to be prescriptive, and overall, the venue is no more participatory than today's daily newspaper. The e-book isn't the most important publishing revolution since Gutenberg as some would have us believe. It is a reincarnation of Gutenberg's press with digital ink."
"Despite the outward appearance of progressiveness, digital ink technologies are actually retrogressive from a cyberpublishing perspective. No mater how clever, they are entrenched in a publisher-centric, author-oriented, prescribed hyperlinked traditonal model of publishing where information flow is rectified from creator, through publisher, to the reader."
Pardon the long quoted section, but I really can't say it better myself. Berghel's points about writer-reader convergences could finally allow onscreen Help to break free of its paper chains. What are we waiting for?