Editoral by William Trimmer on the Internet and Web
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Editorial in The Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Volume 5, Number 4
by William Trimmer, Editor


I have never seen a technology grow as rapidly as the Web. It gives one a sense of how people must have felt about Gutenberg's invention in the 1400's. Movable type profoundly changed the way people communicated. Still, people must have longed for the story teller's voice and expressions. People who felt the increasingly available printed matter was flat and two dimensional.

The Web has not completely found its own voice. Below are some difficulties, challenges, and goals for the Web

The visual information content of the Web is much lower than a newspaper or book. The newspaper spreads out, and it is easy to choose an article from the many being simultaneously presented. The thumb easily flips through a book to sections of interest. And both of these mediums have a higher resolution, increasing the information flow. We have a fascinating time ahead watching the new technologies to solve these problems on the Web.

It takes a long time to scan through many Web sites to find the information of interest. Using the current Web, reminds me of an old card catalog. The information is there, but it is difficult to know the right terms, and find the right sources.

The current Web is not conveniently portable. On my upcoming flight, I plan to tuck a newspaper and book on top of my bags.

Most material presently put on the Web is transitory. Information published in a journal is archived in libraries, and becomes a historical source.

The majority of Web sites are not edited and refereed. A book or journal from a reputable publisher gives one confidence in the material. With most Web sites, one knows little of the scholarship, or motivation, of the site creator. It is expected that a system of refereeing, evaluating, and certifying certain Web sites will continue to evolve.

Material on the Web is easily changed to suit the whim of the creator. Authors of archival papers must stand by what they write, Web site creators need not.

At the present time, I strongly feel scientific papers should be published in referred, archival journals, not the Web. With time, the Web should develop the technical and editorial skills to promote the rapid publication of excellent scientific articles.

However strange and awkward the profusion of the printed word seemed to people of Gutenberg's time, books and articles have become a treasured resource to us. The Web is finding its own place, and our children and grandchildren will wonder how we managed without it.

I wish you good communication.

William Trimmer

 
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