Friday, June 24, 2005

Importance of text-based documents

I’m reading this book called Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, which provides a detailed explanation on why peoples of Euroasian descent came to dominate the earth and wipe out most of the people indigenous to other lands. A lot of it has to do with more advanced technology.

I got to thinking about this evolution in terms of my own newsletter and skill set and whether or not video communication will kill out text-based communication. I guess, since text is the reason most paper document exists, this conundrum could possibly be applied to the entire document imaging industry at large.

One of the reasons, I always give to people for paper sticking around as long as it has, is inertia. And I guess text-based communication has built up quite a bit of inertia in its thousands of years of use. Diamond points out that literacy has historically been very important to dominant societies. The ability to communicate experiences and provide written analysis is important for repeating successful processes, as well as learning about your enemies. (Which I hope you all consider when it comes time to re-up your subs to DIR.)

Theoretically, video can also be used for this type of important communication and is in some corners. However, it seems to me, in its early incarnations at least, video has been mainly hijacked for entertainment purposes. I still don’t see a lot of thought going into how to make video a more valuable means of important communication—although I guess the 8 million cable channels available today, and even more when Internet video technology ramps up—create some potential. But it still seems the majority of all that broadcasting will focus on entertainment.

And that is why text-based communication continues to live on and is very relevant. It is the basis of most serious communication. And related to this, Google should be applauded for its efforts to put all the text-based information buried in books online, because the majority of World Wide Web content is also developed for entertainment purposes.

Anyways, those are my thoughts for today. As always, feel more than free to comment.



1 comment:

Mike said...

It seems to me that one major reason that text will not go away is because text requires nothing more than human eyes to decode it. In contrast, video requires a player of some kind, compatible software, spakers, and a monitor. Even the digital photos I burn to CDs for archiving require a drive, software, and monitor to read the photos. True, drives and monitors are fairly ubiquitous; however, text---like cave drawings---consists of primitive markings that humans will always be able to read with devices that are even more ubiquitous than CD drives: human eyeballs. Thus, despite the snappy flair of a PowerPoint presentation, no one can actually read the presentation without a power source, a drive of some kind, compatible software, and a monitor. Those are a lot of requirements to simply decipher a document. That's why text will continue to be a good technology into the distant future (at least until we have disk drives implanted into our skulls and we can download data directly through our "skull drives." Of course, that data will typically be text...)