Moving From Print To Screen: A Case Study From Joe Clark

Jul 22, 2009

In the current issue of AlistApart, in an article titled Unwebbable, author Joe Clark analyzes the problem of translating a very task-​specific print format – in this case, a screenplay – into an HTML document.

He writes:

The web is replete with projects to “digitize legacy content”—patent applications, books, photographs, everything. While photographs might survive well as JPEGs or TIFFs (disregarding accessibility issues for a moment), the bulk of this legacy content requires semantic markup for computers to understand it. A sheet of paper provides complete authorial freedom, but that freedom can translate poorly to the coarse semantics of HTML. The digitization craze—that’s what it is—crashes headlong into HTML semantics.

But “the digitization craze”, as Joe describes it, is not a craze in the sense of a fad that will dissipate in time. It’s going to continue to occupy a lot of people’s time and attention and money. And keep us crazy for many decades to come. The world is moving from print to screen, what remains unanswered is, “How are we going to manage the transition?”

A must-read for anyone trying to figure out how to move print documents onscreen. And a great example of the kind of analysis that Readable Web is hoping to provide. You beat me to it, Joe!

Addendum: Wait, There’s More!

Turns out the article for AlistApart was heavily edited. A post on Joe Clark’s blog explains, with links to the whole enchilada.

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