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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Hardcopy or electronic books?

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg62326] Re: Hardcopy or electronic books?
  • From: "Steve Luttrell" <steve_usenet at _removemefirst_luttrell.org.uk>
  • Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 03:54:11 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <dln1n3$glk$1@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

Could more authors write purely for an electronic medium, please?

The target medium affects the way you write a "book". If you write for a 
paper medium, and then directly transfer it to electronic medium it doesn't 
work very well, which is (I think) the reason you tend not to read such 
electronic "books". For instance, a load of plain old PDF files are 
definitely not a pleasant experience to view on screen. On the other hand, 
if you write specifically for an electronic medium, then you tend to 
structure the document around the window-of-information model, and to 
densely interconnect these with hyperlinks; if you transfer this type of 
structure to the paper medium it is almost impossible to read.

I cannot remember the last time that I opened my paper copy of the 
Mathematica book; the Help Browser despite its limitations works for me. The 
same comment applies to other technical manuals that I own in both paper and 
electronic form. I much prefer to read technical information in electronic 
form, jumping out "sideways" on the hyperlinks to flesh out details as 
necessary. You need a decent size of screen to make this approach work 
reasonably well, and I can see how this would be even more desirable if we 
had ways of immersing ourselves in a 3-dimensional electronic document space 
(virtual reality, or whatever).

Steve Luttrell

"Steven T. Hatton" <hattons at globalsymmetry.com> wrote in message 
news:dln1n3$glk$1 at smc.vnet.net...
> In an ongoing correspondence with an author of books related to 
> Mathematica,
> the subject of hardcopy verses electronic media came up.  I contend that
> hardcopy remains valuable even though books can easily be distributed
> electronically.  I have several books in electronic form, and find that I
> do not tend to read them.  I much prefer having books in hardcopy.  Having
> the electronic form, especially if they consist of Mathematica notebooks 
> is
> certainly valuable, but does not replace the functionality of traditional
> books with paper pages.
>
> What do others think about this?
>
> -- 
> The Mathematica Wiki: http://www.mathematica-users.org/
> Math for Comp Sci http://www.ifi.unizh.ch/math/bmwcs/master.html
> Math for the WWW: http://www.w3.org/Math/
> 



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