Fiber Optics and Thoughtless Conventions

Subject: Fiber Optics and Thoughtless Conventions
From: Ray Bruman <rbruman -at- RND -dot- RAYNET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 11:08:51 PST

Mike Uhl (uhl~m -at- glaxo -dot- com) writes:
> For example, let me throw out a juicy tidbit: Gilder
> argues that just as engineers once had to learn to "waste" transistors,
> which now cost about 300 millionths of a cent ($0.00000003), they soon
> shall have to learn to "waste" bandwidth.

Well, we at TECHWR-L can easily teach them to do THAT :-)

> Fiber will provide so much
> bandwidth, that engineers and programmers will have to rethink the way
> they use communication link resources.

This is true and has profound implications in our work.
Much of the agonizing in this TECHWR-L forum concerns issues that will
be swept away by advancing technology in publishing. For example,
all the grief about 3-ring binders and insert pages, with the
associated page-numbering problems, index and TOC issues, etc...
all irrelevant when you publish new versions constantly, electronically,
downloaded on demand over fiber optic transmission lines.

But don't look for us humans to keep pace. When the first word
processors, with monospaced daisy-wheel output, appeared in the 70's,
they produced hideous unreadable "fully justified" columns of type.
That convention was started before the invention of printing, when
scribes were bandwidth-limited by their medium (hand-scraped and
polished sheepskin (parchment) or calf-skin (vellum) and needed to
conserve that precious resource. 500 years later, when computers
were already producing 3 trillion pages of output per year, some tech
writers were still following the convention of full-justified lines.
The medieval scribes didn't trouble themselves with hyphenation, the
writers of the 70's didn't correct the "rivers" in the text.
And the readers had to suffer the consequences, as usual.

Ray Bruman In this establishment,
Raynet Corp. we DO NOT DISCUSS
rbruman -at- raynet -dot- com race, religion, politics,
415-688-2325 or nutrition.

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