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Paper 9802:
TOWARDS AN INFORMATION-RICH SOCIETY? OR AN INFORMATION-OVERLOADED ONE? (IS THE MEDIA BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MESSAGE?)

id 9802
authors Ellis, T M R
year 1998
title TOWARDS AN INFORMATION-RICH SOCIETY? OR AN INFORMATION-OVERLOADED ONE? (IS THE MEDIA BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MESSAGE?)
source Proceedings of an ICCC/IFIP Conference held at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary 20-22 April 1998/Edited by Fytton Rowland and John W T Smith. Washington D.C.: ICCC Press, 1998, 286 p. ISBN: 1-891365-02-9
summary The rapid growth in all forms of electronic publishing is creating many new problems – both technical and socio-economic. This paper examines some of these from three different perspectives, representing the author’s personal involvement in this field in three different capacities. As the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Educational Media there is a need to address the issue of what role, if any, electronic publishing can and should play in the future of the journal. The particular subject of this journal, moreover, means that there is a need for the journal readers to have access to samples, at least, of the television and multimedia material which frequently forms the basis of the papers in the journal. This poses difficult issues, both technical and procedural, relating to both the paper version of the Journal and any future electronic versions. A particularly important question is the status of any electronic supplements to the printed journal, since it is extremely unlikely that they will be usable in 50 years’ time, even though the paper copies will still exist in libraries around the world. As Convenor of an ISO Working Group, the author is required to distribute, solely by electronic means, a wide range of documents throughout the world. The paper will discuss the technical issues that this raises, particularly when documents may be created using many different software packages, and yet must be delivered in a form that often requires very strict adherence to the original author’s formatting. As a user of electronic documents in many different fields, the author is faced with still more problems. In particular, the amount of email received by the author makes it quite impossible to read it all; yet how does one decide what to delete before reading? Equally, the number of web pages found as a result of a search on almost any topic is so vast that it is inconceivable that anyone could look at them all. Finally, very few people are able or willing to read documents of more than a page or two from a screen, and resort to printing before reading. Is electronic publishing increasing the rate of deforestation of the planet? Electronic publishing, in the broadest sense of the word, thus raises a great many problems at every stage of the process. These can best be captured by the growing sense of information overload that many (most?) people are suffering from, and the undoubted fact that, in many cases, the medium is becoming more important than the message that it conveys. Based on more than ten years’ experience of using electronic document distribution in several, quite disparate, fields, the paper concludes by suggesting some key principles which must be observed if the brave new world of electronic publishing is not to collapse under the weight of its own success.
series ELPUB:1998
type keynote paper
email Miles.Ellis@etrc.ox.ac.uk
content file.pdf (41,032 bytes)
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urn:nbn urn:nbn:se:elpub-9802
last changed 2006/04/06 22:09
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