An off-hand comment in an email discussion today got me started thinking about the value of the printed word. The comment?
Hopefully most folks will take advantage of the mobile and EPUB versions.
The discussion was relating to the ACSAC Final Program. There has been a movement this year away from paper. There are no printed (or even CD) proceedings–they are all on-line. There is encouragement to use versions of the final program on eReaders and tablets; paper is discouraged. I haven’t yet had the call for me not to print Tutorial Notes, but I’m sure that’s coming.
I think this movement away from paper is a bad thing. A really bad thing. Consider the theatre. You attend the theatre and you get aprinted program. They don’t just point you to a URL and tell you to download the program. You can read the program at your leasure; you can consult it afterwards. More importantly, you can keep it as a souvenir, and you can share it with your friends. It can contain advertising that you can consult for related shows. It lives on afterwards.
A printed final program from a conference can do the same thing. You can use it to unobtrusively make notes during a session, without having to stare at a screen. You can share it with colleagues after the conference. It provides evidence of attendance for continuing education. It allows you to look back at the conference as you plan for the next one (that’s harder with an epub, which you probably delete after the conference).
Similarly, I feel the move away from printed flyers, newsletters, and other publicity items is hurtful to event attendance. I receive email blasts for events every day. I skim them, delete them, and forget about them. Flyers, on the other hand, I put up on my bulletin boards. I share them with colleagues. They are continually in my face, reminding me about the event. They are significantly better than the bits of an electronic message.
So what about you? Do you still want paper publicity? Is this an age thing — does the younger set treat electronic communication and documents with more reverence?