ITGS Syllabus

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Topic 84

printed versus electronically published information by Romeo Wu

The most observable difference between print and electronic publishing is, obviously, their temporal qualities. While print-based media are grounded in physical space, their form consisting of solid elements based on wood pulp and plastics that can be 'owned' and held, the electronic media free publishing from the printing and object-based process. Digital media consist of a series of binary bits that fly through space at the speed of light, foregoing a complex computer-driven data encoding/decoding process at each end. While the decoded product, to the senses, may resemble a printed alternative in many ways, it is not materially or spatially-bound, and therefore challenges national regulations and established notions of intellectual 'property'.

The author-reader relationship in the electronic orb of computer networking takes on a completely different meaning to that existing in traditional print media. The digital media enable real-time dynamic updating and instant user feedback, the results of which can, in turn, contribute to shaping the product. This infers that the new system is largely relationship based, with user-friendly indexing features, communal features fostering the product towards achieving its maximum potential, while reflecting a variety of viewpoints. The process of print publishing restricts such rapid feedback and updated information delivery. Restrictive expenses of resources, too, act as a barrier against the production of printed revised editions until sufficient demand arises.

Socially and politically, though, the greatest difference between the disparate publishing processes is in relation to the accessibility of electronic media as a publishing outlet. User-friendly HTML editors and multimedia presentation software, in conjunction with the low costs associated with distributing information over networks effectively opens up the market to anyone who is driven to make a statement or provide information to the public, whether pertinent or otherwise.

Of course, this aspect also raises questions regarding the validity of information conveyed, though similar accusations could arguably be directed at many fringe print productions. Undeniably, though, the infinite benefits underlying a user-shaped environment far outweigh issues of academic legitimacy and the formation of a deceptive hyper-reality.

Taken directly from


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