3.1329 Reading on Paper and on Screen (215)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 30 Apr 90 16:48:20 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1329. Monday, 30 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: Fri, 27 Apr 90 20:49:58 EDT (54 lines)
From: Ken Steele <KSTEELE@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Trees, Proof-reading, and the "Paperless Office"

(2) Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 14:56:55 -0400 (24 lines)
From: Robert Hollander <bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.1325 Trees (branching out...) (106)

(3) Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 16:16 PDT (25 lines)
Subject: Re: 3.1325 Trees (branching out...) (106)

(4) Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 23:31 MDT (13 lines)
Subject: Hardcopy for editing

(5) Date: Sunday, 29 April 1990 1301-EST (29 lines)
Subject: Computers and Paper Use

(6) Date: Mon, 30 Apr 90 14:19:32 EDT (54 lines)
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Screen-reading and paper-reading [eds.]
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------

Date:(6) Fri, 27 Apr 90 20:49:58 EDT (41 lines)
From: Ken Steele <KSTEELE@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Trees, Proof-reading, and the "Paperless Office"

I'm surprised at the number of Humanists who report an inability to
proofread on a computer monitor. Perhaps I'm just captivated by cathode
rays, or maybe I'm representative of a generation raised on television,
but my papers never hit paper until they're FINISHED -- IF then. Most
of my written correspondence is via Bitnet, my journal contributions are
usually made on diskette, and my library research is recorded on disk
from the beginning. Whether I'm editing a Shakespeare textbase or
writing a note to family, the assumption is no longer that paper will be
the ultimate destination of my words.

My standards for orthography, syntax and punctuation are at least as
exacting as others' -- but if I can't catch the error on-screen, I'm
VERY unlikely to catch it on paper. When I'm particularly tired, I may
resort to an electronic spell-checker or grammar-checker to ensure that
I haven't missed anything -- but usually I haven't. Perhaps dependency
on paper output is only a psychological perception, based on
long-established work habits?

I think I've mentioned on Humanist before that I DO read electronic
texts -- by choice. Whether I'm reading software manuals,
correspondence, or the Riverside Shakespeare, my attention is more
tightly focused when I'm reading it on-screen -- and note-taking is as
simple and cutting and pasting, even on an IBM. I wouldn't DREAM of
printing out electronic text simply in order to read it -- that's a last
resort, to get information to someone who has no access to a computer
(and there are no longer many in that position). I buy and read paper
books only because they're not available on-line -- and unfortunately, I
don't expect the profit-oriented publishing industry to encourage
electronic publication (where scholarship and information can truly be
shared freely and widely) for a very long time.

Business (and administration) continues to generate paper copy at a
horrific rate for three reasons (that occur to me): the instability of
magnetic storage, the necessity of communication across hardware and
software incompatibilities, and the privileged legal status of signed,
dated documentation. I leave it to the experts to predict when these
obstacles will finally be overcome, and when we will actually SEE the
"paperless office" on a large scale.

And, just for the record, I think the (occasionally intemperate)
responses to the Earth Day sentiment have entirely missed the point.

Ken Steele
University of Toronto
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 14:56:55 -0400
From: Robert Hollander <bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.1325 Trees (branching out...) (106)

Bob Amsler's remarks begin to make more sense when he points then to the
future. I think those who took issue with him are undoubtedly correct in
thinking that, to date, computers have not decreased the amount of paper
being inscribed with characters. Let us imagine a world in which the
various telephone companies (it will take longer without Ma Bell's
essential monopoly) simply refuse to print phonebooks because more
reliable, updatable, complete and even world-wide info. will be
available on your telephone-TV- computer. Once that day is here--and it
surely must come--we will probably all understand that paper is on the
way down as medium for communcation. It will never be out, I think. As
Princeton's Librarian Donald Koepp was saying at a meeting this morning
(that's right, the Protestant work ethic is still alive here--a Saturday
morning meeting), civilization never totally discards its major tools.
Medieval "libraries" help manuscripts; our library holds manuscripts
["help" above = "held"], books, microfiches, CD-ROMs, etc. And all of
these are still being created (including MSS). In short, I think we'll
still have to hug our trees, cut 'em down, having planted new ones, as
many paper companies have realized, and learn to use and nurture the
planet. It isn't easy, but it can be done. And if one relflects for a
minute about the enormous changes that have occurred for the good in
this regard in the last 25 years, one takes heart. BobH
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------239---
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 16:16 PDT
Subject: Re: 3.1325 Trees (branching out...) (106)

Maybe true; but one doesnt savor what is one screen, whereas the book or
the newspaper, the letter, the magazine, whatever is not ephemeral, is
not what is on screen, which takes a great focussing effort. To revise
text wiht inserts, and such needs paper, although I do a lot of original
writing and revision on screen, since to reprint is also time
consuming. Maybe true that "information" is better :"handled"
electronically, but "writing" with the W is not very portable or easy
to handle from the chair and esk thatcramps the legs at all hours. An
easy chair or couch to read for 5 hours at is not a screen, and the cost
ber item is far cheaper than this thing with its bulky monitor, anbd
etc. Books are not smae sort of tools as spread sheets and stock
quotations. God forbid that oner would have to focus on the screen and
not the large, and complex page of the N Y Times and etc, with its
complex surreal interplay of columns etc. (Cf McLuhan 's 1950 book THE
MECHANICAL BRIDE). We may change as we go, but there are too many
people needing newspapers to wad down in hallways at night, or pack
bathrooms with, or clean glass and cars with, etc. Paper is a very
useful thing, and my old journals and notebooks are consulted more
often than my new journals on diskettes, which I scarcely ever mull
through. Alas, our Bell labs man should real kafka's IN THE PENAL
COLONY, and he would learn about skin and lampshades and writing on...a
rather horrible analogy, and one no Humanist, even if a tree lover and
earthlover, should make in public. Really! Kessler here.

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------239---
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 90 23:31 MDT
Subject: Hardcopy for editing

I have never found a convenient or comfortable way to edit
electronically. By "edit" I mean edit another's ms so that the
suggestions, corrections, rephrasings, and queries do not obliterate the
original yet remain CLEARLY tied to the text. The old-fashioned pencil
and hardcopy have always been by far the fastest and most efficient way
for me. I have tried various methods--codes, interlinear insertions,
etc.--and they all take much more time and energy and inhibit
communication and quality editing. Can anyone suggest a comparable
paperless way?
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Sunday, 29 April 1990 1301-EST
Subject: Computers and Paper Use

Perhaps this is a voice from the other side, but in my recent computer
compositions (OFFLINE, various articles, reviews, etc.) I find that
editing on the screen is preferable to printing out hard copy from which
to edit, and indeed, in some instances NO hard copy is ever generated by
me for any purpose.

Where I do find myself generating printed paper is for answering
incoming electronic mail, for two reasons: (1) I don't yet have a
"windows" type environment in which I can display the incoming message
while I write a response, and (2) I don't have enough convenient disk
space to keep all the electronic correspondence in a ready to hand
archive, so I put the printed copy into file drawers. Hopefully this
will change in the not too distant future. Indeed, suggestions about
the most efficient and effective software for managing e-mail on an IBM
mainframe with PCs as terminals in a large but severely underfunded arts
and sciences context are most welcome. I know there are better ways
than I now use, but whether there is anything for the equipment available
to me is the real question (XT level IBM accessing mainframe through
YTerm or ProComm).

Bob Kraft
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------55----
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 90 14:19:32 EDT (54 lines)
From: Skip Knox <DUSKNOX@IDBSU>
Subject: Screen-reading and paper-reading [eds.]

Foremost is resolution. The letters on a screen are fuzzy, and
resolution will have to take a quantum leap before we get anything
close to 300 dpi; still longer for typeset quality. Another factor
is color -- we are accustomed to black on white with nice solid
weight to the letters. Yeah, I know, lots of folks proof from
their dot matrix, but isn't NLQ from a 24 pin printer much nicer
than draft from a 9 pin? I'll wager accuracy improves even there.

But the foremost consideration to me has nothing to do with vision,
it has to do with my body. When I write short things -- office
memos, letters, e-mail, class handouts, quizzes, etc. -- I work
directly at the computer. When I write fiction, though, I work on
paper. Lots of folks have chastised me about this, including
published authors (from which this unpublished one ought surely to
learn a lesson), but the fact remains that I am more comfortable
_thinking_ on paper.

I wondered about this at length until I considered how I work.
When I sit at the computer I have to stay in one position, with my
head in one position. Were I to work this way for three or four
hours at a stretch I would be extremely uncomfortable. When I
write, though (as distinguished from working), my favorite position
is stretched full length on the floor. I sit for a while, lie for
a time, roll over and snooze betimes.

I would think that proofreading any serious sort of work requires
the same mental concentration, and that the physically constraining
business of sitting at a computer interferes with that
concentration. We therefore print out what we've done. It's
easier on the eyes and we can do the work anywhere. Computers will
have to be as pliable and portable as pencil and paper before they
can truly compete with same.

Skip Knox
Microcomputer Coordinator (cum) Medieval Historian
Boise State University
Boise, Idaho