With the arrival of networking multimedia, is there a future in the printed word?
At a recent opening of a new multimedia centre I saw some excellent multimedia presentations and hints that the combination of graphics, sound, text and full motion video would open new horizons. There were hints that old paper-based technology could vanish and with it - jobs.
We have already seen the demise of types of jobs in the IT business. Remember programmers that worked in assembler?
Even more recently there were dedicated word processing operators. The job was unknown until about the mid-1970s. Even the term was unknown until 1971. By the end of the 1970s there were columns of ads in the jobs section of the weekend papers calling for word processing operators. Last week in The Sydney Morning Herald, there were just eight such vacancies.
The speeches at the opening of the multimedia centre followed the flashy demonstrations.
The people from the computer company praised the people from the multimedia centre. The man from the multimedia centre praised the people from the computer company. Both sides praised the government that had funded the project. The politician from the government was also full of praise.
Why not? This was all leading edge technology - interactive multimedia, digital video disk, virtual reality. The buzz phrase generator had been working overtime for the speeches.
Would their new technology swamp the print media? At the end of it all they handed out small brown paper bags that contained excellent background material on the centre.
Guess what? The press releases were printed in 14 point Times on standard white bond paper. Also in the kit was a pen. And the people from the computer company, the multimedia centre and the distinguished politician - they had all read their speeches from paper.
We're safe - for a while yet.
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