Despite all the
ballyhoo about the latest electronic wizardry-e-mail, the net, voice-recognition
software-the printed word is here to stay.
Half a millennium
ago, the printing press transformed the world. It bonded words to paper
and released people from having to rely on their memories and good intentions
to carry out their business affairs. Businesses were able to easily
expand their sales and services to nearby towns and across the country.
Letter writing became an art form and the tree a means of conveying
Today the net and
its associated gadgets are having a similar impact on businesses and
the expansion of their markets. Through electronic media, words have
been released from paper and flow in clouds of electrons around the
world-a savings in time and money.
(A side effect of
separating words from unreliable paper is that now words cannot be extinguished.
For example, Oliver North's e-mails to his Iran-Contra conspirators
survived numerous deletion attempts and now reside in the National Security
Archives in Washington.) But this doesn't mean the end of paper.
Nor as some enthusiasts
claim will video replace print. Videos are not as credible as the written
word. People are now familiar with technology's ability to superimpose
images on top of each other so that anything can be altered and events
changed. Therefore, they are less likely to believe what they see.
In addition, because
reading requires more brain work than does the passive exercise of viewing
pictures, people who read retain more information than those who just
gaze. Research conducted during the Gulf War showed that people who
were reading about the situation had a better grasp of what was going
on than people who obtained their information solely from television
Granted, the Internet
and other on-line services, such as internal bulletin boards, can take
over certain functions from the printed page and disseminate information
faster and more efficiently. However, we have to learn to mix and match
our media. I believe that for background information and overall strategy
print works best. Few people turn to on-line information for "big
In addition, any
article with a lot of photography works better in print. The screen
doesn't offer the same visual appeal as paper nor does it give you good
control over colour. Charts, tables and graphs also take a long time
to download, and few people have the patience to wait.
In today's world,
we are blessed. We have options for disseminating information. Ensure
the media you choose matches the message, the design and the content.