Which resource do you prefer to obtain information; print or on-line? This morning I attended an interactive DAC debate that touched on the issues on the shift from print media to on-line publishing. Below is my summary of the topics and discussions of the presentation titled Editorial Coverage: The Times They Are A-changing.
Moderator: Scott Sandler, President and CEO, Novas
- John Furrier, CEO & Founder, PodTech Network
- Brian Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, EE Times
- Mike Santorini, Sr. Editor, Electronics Design, Strategy News (EDN)
- David Heller, President & CEO, IBSystems
- Michael Markowitz, Dir. WW Technical Media Relations ST Microelectronics
I started Podtech with a microphone and an iRiver. All I did was go around attending events and interviewing entrepreneurs. I then hosted the interviews on blogs, podcasts, and websites. At first it was more of a hobby but as traction developed, I turned it into a company. I believe print is going away and that people will look on-line for sources of information. Print will not completely go away, because there is something to be said about the touch, feel, and mobility of a book. However, for on-demand, up to date, real time information we can’t wait for print anymore.
More and more communities are formed on the Internet that print does not allow you to create. People want to be able to comment and share insight with others. Information on-line gives people an identity, a personality, and expression.
Moderator (Sandler): Since we have all been around long enough, can you touch on the history of the transition from print to on-line?
Santorini: It is becoming more and more difficult to figure out what my customer wants. I can’t tell what form they want their information in.
Sandler: Show of hands how many people read print?
Crowd: About half the people raised their hands.
Sandler: Show of hands how many people prefer to get their information on-line?
Crowd: About 2/3 of the people raised their hands.
Sandler: I noticed that some people raised their hands twice. With this small sample, I infer that people still read print, but prefer to get their information on-line.
Fuller: People want information now and on-demand. Print can’t keep up with providing the newest content. Also, anything that has a shelf life is great for on-line because it is easy to archive and retrieve later. Unlike print, on-line usage can be measured in many ways. We can determine how long the user is viewing the page, which pages the user is viewing, the ability to link between other resources, etc.
Markowitz: On-line allows users to develop communities and relationships. Unlike print which is almost impossible to comment on a writers topic, feedback is instant on-line. Users will tell you exactly how they feel and if you do not do your homework, they will call you out on it if you are wrong.
My take: even though electrical engineers have been early adopters of the web for job related information, it’s not clear that the cubicle environment most of us work in is conducive to audio and video consumption. Also, for work related information, it’s not clear that audio or video content has been developed that’s more useful than text (whether phosphor or ink). While streaming media is useful for establishing an emotional connection, it’s much slower for the average engineer to listen to an interview than read a white paper or a data sheet. Leveraging animation and simulation for interactive datasheets may prove more useful, especially if you could download ready to go models–e.g. for schematic, PCB, simulation, power, thermal, and mechanical info to name a few views that currently require manual transcription from PDF.