Why so little Puzzleless IF

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Stark

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Mar 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/3/99
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[Repost. I sent this, but I believe it didn't go out]

It's my opinion that interactive fiction will become a popular and
commercially viable product again.

We are moving from paper-based information storage to electronic
information storage. I think that within a few years, we will begin to see
novels by best selling authors begin to be published electronically rather
than just on paper, and that eventually, most books will be published this
way. People will download books and read them through hand-held devices,
which will be about the size of a paperback book and easily portable (and
which will have a decent viewing screen for their small size).

Once this shift has taken place, people will rediscover text interactive
fiction, only it won't bear much resemblance to the old Infocom adventure
games. I can imagine novel-length works by best selling authors like
Stephen King, with all of the programming and much of the lesser important
writing being done by other people (much the way that Matt Groening created
and oversees the Simpsons tv show, but doesn't do the actual animation
himself).

This interactive fiction will not contain puzzles in the way that most IF
today does. The average person out there enjoys movies and stories and
such, but has no interest in solving puzzles, or >not< solving them and
getting stuck.

There are two ways of creating IF without story-stopping puzzles. One is
to have no puzzles, which lets the reader experience the story, explore the
various environments, interact with characters, and make decisions which
possibly alter the course of the story.

A second is to create puzzles, but have them resolve themselves to a great
extent if the player doesn't figure them out himself. In a murder mystery
where the player takes the role of the detective, the player could go
around, interview suspects, look for clues, and so on. However, he could
also have a partner who would help him out if he seemed to be faltering,
informants who would wander in to offer clues to things he wasn't figuring
out, the game could prompt him with hints, and so on.

This would require more sophistication than the usual IF game, since there
would have to be an AI routine which could monitor the player's progress,
decide when the player seemed to be stuck, and then take some action to
unstick the player, hopefully an action which seemed to fit seamlessly into
the game, rather then appearing to be bailing the player out.

What I've just described is not actually puzzleless, but is instead a
different approach to puzzle-based IF, one in which the plot will move
along regardless of the player's success in puzzle solving, where events
have a life of their own in a sense and will find a way to take place in
spite of anything the player fails to do.

This approach would work well for certain types of stories, like detective
fiction, while the first approach I mentioned would be more appropriate for
stories which centered around relationships, for example.

I'd like to see stories using either approach I've just mentioned written
now, rather than not for another 10 or 15 years.

Stark

Doeadeer3

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Mar 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/3/99
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Well, frankly I will always prefer reading pages to reading electronically:
it's easier on my eyes, easier on my bod (I can read where I want), easier on
my bookmarks, easier to flip through pages forward and back and if one wants,
easier to mark passages.

Unless it is a some sort of "game" that I can interact with and affect.

I also think most "ordinary" writers will not write electronic novels, as Mike
Beryln says it is very hard to write puzzleless IF, harder than puzzle IF. To
make it interactive, one has to include plot branches or SOMETHING. Most
"ordinary" writers are not going to take the time to do that or have the
ability or desire to do that (for instance, you may be seriously
underestimating how much work it is to create even characters that the
reader/player can INTERACT with). Even someone like Steven King will probably
not do it (who I think can write a good yarn).

So I hope paper books stay with us forever.

Doe :-)


Doe doea...@aol.com (formerly known as FemaleDeer)
****************************************************************************
"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane." Mark Twain

Mike Berlyn

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Mar 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/3/99
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Stark wrote in message <01be6533$d49aba00$90d6...@Stark.foxinternet.net>...

>We are moving from paper-based information storage to electronic
>information storage. I think that within a few years, we will begin to see
>novels by best selling authors begin to be published electronically rather
>than just on paper, and that eventually, most books will be published this
>way. People will download books and read them through hand-held devices,
>which will be about the size of a paperback book and easily portable (and
>which will have a decent viewing screen for their small size).
<snip>

Cascade is already doing this (for the Newton), and will be making their
eBooks available for the Palm Pilot by the end of this week, +/- a few days.

-- Mike
http://www.cascadepublishing.com

see eBooks link.

Stark

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote

> Well, frankly I will always prefer reading pages to reading
electronically:
> it's easier on my eyes, easier on my bod (I can read where I want),
easier on
> my bookmarks, easier to flip through pages forward and back and if one
wants,
> easier to mark passages.

Yes, you probably will always prefer reading paper books, since this is
what you've grown up with and are used to.

[Prediction mode on]

However, 30 years or so from now, people who've grown up with electronic
books will be used to them, and will find them far preferable to paper
books. A student will be able to carry a small Palm Pilot type device,
instead of lugging 5 or 10 heavy textbooks around.

Since it will be small, and yet have enough memory to store tens or
hundreds of books on it, you'll be able to carry it with you wherever you
go and then choose what you want to read when you get there.

It'll have a built in dictionary, which allows you to easily look up any
word you need to. It'll allow one to do searches within the text, if you
can't remember where in the book (or in which book, if you've got a bunch
of them stored at once) some particular thing is.

I'm sure that 100 years ago people loved their horses, were used to them,
and could never have imagined some machine taking the place of the horse in
their lives. But how many of us use a horse and buggy for that trip to the
store these days?

Stark

Doeadeer3

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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>I'm sure that 100 years ago people loved their horses, were used to them,
>and could never have imagined some machine taking the place of the horse in
>their lives. But how many of us use a horse and buggy for that trip to the
>store these days?
>
>Stark
>

Well, frankly right now, I can read faster than any electronic device present
the material. My eye can travel up and down a page 10X faster than anything I
have used electronically can scroll. Also sometimes I can turn a page and my
eye can skip to the next word faster than a lot of electronic devices can page
too, as you can imagine I find reading information on the WWW with all it's
paging delaying highly irritating.

I also remember when people said books would disappear because all books would
be on tape (casettes). Well, casette books are still around, but so are paper
books, and they outsell tapes.

Until scrolling and paging can be as fast as one's eye is now, I doubt that
electronic books will make a major dent in paper book sales. Also, until
EVERYONE can afford such an electronic hand-held device. (You're forgetting a
lot of countries do not have that high a precentage of computer users yet --
most of the countries not represented in this newsgroup -- English speaking,
that is.)

I am also of the opinion that not EVERYTHING is done better electronically. One
example, about 10 Christmases ago, someone came up with a great Christmas gift
idea, an electronic bacon cooker. Lots of people bought them, you hardly see
them now. Why? Cleaning up that bacon cooker with all it's interior parts was
much harder than cleaning up a simple frying pan (it also wasted a lot of
energy.).

And the paperclip is still around too.

However, that doesn't mean I don't wish Mike success in his endeavor.

So, nyah, nyah, to you too,

T Raymond (see sig)

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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On 4 Mar 99 00:42:43 GMT, "Stark" <Stark4(delete-this-&-the-4)@foxinternet.net> wrote:

> I'm sure that 100 years ago people loved their horses, were used to them,
> and could never have imagined some machine taking the place of the horse in
> their lives. But how many of us use a horse and buggy for that trip to the
> store these days?

I suppose that all depends on if you live in Amish
country or not. But, this comment aside, there will
be printed books around for quite some time yet.
If only for the reason that we (an all encompassing
term for this discussion) as a general rule, don't like
change, nor have we learned to try and save our
planet. Much like the technology you are speaking
of, we have only made inroads. In both cases,
things must change on a broad base before either
becomes reality.

<philosopher mode off>

Personally, I think I could get used to it without much
difficulty, but as an avid reader (but also a computer
user for half my life) I just gotta say that there's that
little something that one gets from turning a page.
*shrug* It might just be me though.

Tom
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tom Raymond adk @ usa.net
"All at once I knew that I knew nothing..."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Doeadeer3

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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>Subject: Re: Why so little Puzzleless IF
>From: argus@ usa.net (T Raymond (see sig))
>Date: 3/3/99 8:22 PM Pacific Standard Time

>there will
>be printed books around for quite some time yet.
>If only for the reason that we (an all encompassing
>term for this discussion) as a general rule, don't like
>change, nor have we learned to try and save our
>planet.

We could always make paper from hemp. Hemp books, sounds good, huh?

Of course there's a few problems with that that would need to be worked out
first (mainly making that process legal in various countries), but I'm all for
it.

Doe :-) There really are ways to make paper without cutting down more trees.

Adam J. Thornton

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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In article <19990303233058...@ng-fw1.aol.com>,

Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>We could always make paper from hemp. Hemp books, sounds good, huh?

I had a hemp wallet. It clearly stated on the label "DO NOT CONSUME."

I always imagined myself at a party, frantically trying to smoke my own
wallet.

Oddly, the Dead Cow wallet I have now is lasting much better, and looking
much better, than the hemp one did. For all that hemp is supposed to be an
incredibly tough fiber, it wore out in a year and a half.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman

Stark

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote in article
> Well, frankly right now, I can read faster than any electronic device
present
> the material. My eye can travel up and down a page 10X faster than
anything I
> have used electronically can scroll.

Huh? If you read a text file using a simple DOS text editor, and hold down
the page down key, you'll scroll through the text at a rate of about 10K
per second(I just tested this. Took a minute to scroll through the 600K
inform designer's manual). Are you saying you can read faster than this?

Stark
(who had no idea he was dealing with such super-geniuses)


Iain Merrick

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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Stark wrote:

> Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>
> > Well, frankly right now, I can read faster than any electronic device present
> > the material. My eye can travel up and down a page 10X faster than anything I
> > have used electronically can scroll.
>
> Huh? If you read a text file using a simple DOS text editor, and hold down
> the page down key, you'll scroll through the text at a rate of about 10K
> per second(I just tested this. Took a minute to scroll through the 600K
> inform designer's manual). Are you saying you can read faster than this?

But you can't read it while it's scrolling.

I think what Doe meant - and if so, I agree - is that if you have, say,
a 20-page document to read, you can get through it much faster if it's
on paper than if it's on a computer screen. And it's _much_ easier to
quickly skip back and forward through a paper document than it is to do
so with an electronic document.

That said, sometimes when reading a book I find myself wishing I could
just hit Command-F and search for some word, rather than looking up the
index or browsing back and forth looking for it. Oh well.

--
Iain Merrick

Doeadeer3

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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>Huh? If you read a text file using a simple DOS text editor, and hold down
>the page down key, you'll scroll through the text at a rate of about 10K
>per second(I just tested this. Took a minute to scroll through the 600K
>inform designer's manual). Are you saying you can read faster than this?
>

I was thinking mainly of Windows, but how can I explain this? Okay, if I want
to read one page, my eye can travel down the page quicker than the screen can
scroll down one page. Get it? Also my eye can travel BACKWARDS up the page
quicker. And I may return to picking up a word or two from a previous
paragraph, I suspect I do that all the time when I read.

But most electronic presentation (and especially on a Palm Pilot, which I don't
have, or a laptop computer, which I don't have, but both of which have short
screens -- and you were giving an example of in the future when people carrying
around ebooks), I HAVE TO USE MY HANDS to scroll up and back.

Get it?

My eye is 10X quicker, it can roam over a page (over TWO pages, since when I
have a book open, I can see two pages at once) 10X quicker than my finger can
scroll.

No one else had a hard time understanding what I meant, I think you are being
deliberately obtuse.

Doe :-)

Stephen Robert Norris

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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In article <19990304112159...@ng-ft1.aol.com>,
doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) intoned:

> No one else had a hard time understanding what I meant, I think you are being
> deliberately obtuse.
>
> Doe :-)

I did too, but I hoped it would become clear (as it now has).

You need a bigger screen - my display will happily hold a paperback
page of text and going forwards and backwards is quicker (I can hit
space/backspace faster than I can turn a page, anyway).

I think you're being a bit over-sensitive about being an old fart :)

--
Stephen Norris s...@fn.com.au
PGP key available via finger s...@flibble.fn.com.au.
Farrow Norris Pty. Ltd. http://www.fn.com.au/

Stark

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote in article
>
> My eye is 10X quicker, it can roam over a page (over TWO pages, since
when I
> have a book open, I can see two pages at once) 10X quicker than my finger
can
> scroll.
>
> No one else had a hard time understanding what I meant, I think you are
being
> deliberately obtuse.

Actually, I still don't get your point.

Your computer screen is capable of holding just as much text as a page in a
book. Actually, it can probably hold more if you set it to a high graphics
resolution. And future palm pilot type devices, if they have a screen the
size of a paperback, ought to be able to hold as much text on the screen at
once as a paperback book does.

The time it takes to scroll down using the page down button is about the
same amount of time it will take you to turn the page in a book. So
where's the lost time in reading electronically?

Stark

Stuart Moore

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Mar 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/4/99
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How do eBooks differ from IF?

Bye,

--
Stuart Moore.

Doeadeer3

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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>Subject: Re: Why so little Puzzleless IF
>From: "Stark" <Stark4(delete-this-&-the-4)@foxinternet.net>
>Date: 3/4/99 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time

>The time it takes to scroll down using the page down button is about the
>same amount of time it will take you to turn the page in a book.

Nope. Not usually. No, there is more text on two pages in a paper book than I
usually see on the screen all at once. Usually on the screen is 1/2 a page of
text.

Look, I KNOW I have to slow down to read electronically, I KNOW this from
experience. I don't see how you can dispute MY experience.

Doeadeer3

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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>Subject: Re: Why so little Puzzleless IF
>From: s...@fn.com.au (Stephen Robert Norris)
>Date: 3/4/99 1:21 PM Pacific Standard Time

>I think you're being a bit over-sensitive about being an old fart :)

Well, maybe, but that is why us "old farts" are old farts, as you get older you
grumble more.

Grumble, grumble.

Doe :-) The only real advantage to getting older is you feel like you have to
apologize much less. In other words, you get more opininated and you feel more
ENTITLED to your opinions.

R. Alan Monroe

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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In article <01be6533$d49aba00$90d6...@Stark.foxinternet.net>, "Stark" <Stark4(delete-this-&-the-4)@foxinternet.net> wrote:

>way. People will download books and read them through hand-held devices,
>which will be about the size of a paperback book and easily portable (and
>which will have a decent viewing screen for their small size).

It will be a long time, if ever, before we have a screen that matches the
resolution of ink molecules. But nothing compares to the sheer ease of
use you get when you thumb through a book, riffling the pages. I suspect
that our brains can actually make more use of what we see whizzing by
than most people expect. Sure it's not "reading" but you get just the right
amount of context to land exactly where you want. I could probably think
of a half dozen ease of use advantages for traditional books. About the
only downside is square footage requirements.

Have fun
Alan

John Escobedo

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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I agree... reading on electronic media (and I do it a lot)
is hard on most eyes.

It's not as bad on palm tops though. The main problem is
reading from projected lighting instead of reflected light.
A screen is projecting light out from it.. While paper
just reflects light.

When then can make an 'opaque' screen that changes color
by rotating micro prisms, and it is lit the same way you light
a book (i.e. shining a light ON in). Then we might get something
that 'feels' like paper does to the eyes.

Many have been in development since the 80's but it is
still to expensive. A postage stamp sized screen still costs
$3000 to make. Meanwhile, LCD's have come a long
way too and are infinitely cheaper.

Imagine opening what looks like a one page book that you can
'write' on with a pen. I can thing of an interactive version of Myst
(for those of you familiar with the books, not just the game) where
you practice 'The Art' and write out the worlds you want to explore.

So what do you think?
John

R. Alan Monroe wrote in message ...

Den

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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On 4 Mar 1999, Stark wrote:
> However, 30 years or so from now, people who've grown up with
> electronic books will be used to them, and will find them far
> preferable to paper books.

I like it but I ca'nt coler in the picters, not propply.

--
Den (aged 5 1/2)


Mike Berlyn

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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Stuart Moore wrote in message <36DF66...@my-dejanews.com>...
<snip>

>How do eBooks differ from IF?
>
>Bye,
>
>--
>Stuart Moore.

Stuart,

eBooks are books which are readable on handhelds, PDAs and on computers.
Please see our FAQ for more information:

http://e-storefront.cascadepublishing.com/cmp/dept.asp?dept_id=2

and then click on Read the eBook FAQ.

-- Mike

okbl...@usa.net

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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In article <19990304203422...@ng-cf1.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
>
> Look, I KNOW I have to slow down to read electronically, I KNOW this from
> experience. I don't see how you can dispute MY experience.
>

Because it's not his. Simple, really. :-)

[ok]

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

fra...@sinopsis.com

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Mar 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/5/99
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paene lacrimavi postquam R. Alan Monroe scribavit

> I could probably think
>of a half dozen ease of use advantages for traditional books. About the
>only downside is square footage requirements.

Speaking of, there's something that worries me about the impending
electronic book revolution. What the hell do we do with all the
bookshelves?

Fraser.
(they'll probably become retro)

Jason F. Finx

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
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> No one else had a hard time understanding what I meant, I think you are
being
> deliberately obtuse.

Er... no, I don't think he was being deliberately obtuse. I, for one,
STILL don't
understand what you mean - and I use Windows too..

> ...Okay, if I want


> to read one page, my eye can travel down the page quicker than the screen
can
> scroll down one page. Get it?

Er, no. Not at all. Your eye can travel down the page that quickly, sure,
but not
actually read it. Or are you saying you only scroll to the next page after
you've
finished one page? That seems a bit odd. I generally scroll as I read.

> Also my eye can travel BACKWARDS up the page
> quicker. And I may return to picking up a word or two from a previous
> paragraph, I suspect I do that all the time when I read.

But isn't the previous paragraph still on the screen anyway?

>... I HAVE TO USE MY HANDS to scroll up and back.

And what? You turn pages in a printed book with your tongue?

I'm sorry, but I don't get your point. Yes, I understand that printed
books
retain some advantages. Given the choice, I would rather read a novel from
a book than from a computer screen. (That might change when there are
smaller computers with displays that are easier on the eyes, or it might
not.
I'll have to wait and see.) But I don't see scrolling speed as an issue.
Sorry.
I'm not trying to be difficult here. Unless you're saying that you only
scroll
to the next page of text a full page at a time (which seems odd to me, but
at
the moment seems to be the most logical interpretation), I honestly don't
see
what you mean.

----- Jason F. Finx
j...@sozo.com

Jason F. Finx

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
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fra...@sinopsis.com wrote in article <7bppfb$dve$1...@remarQ.com>...


> Speaking of, there's something that worries me about the impending
> electronic book revolution. What the hell do we do with all the
> bookshelves?

Why, we hide secret passages behind them, of course! What else do
you do with bookshelves? ;)

Doeadeer3

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
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>Subject: Re: Why so little Puzzleless IF
>From: "Jason F. Finx" <j...@sozo.com>
>Date: 3/7/99 7:51 PM Pacific Standard Time

>I honestly don't see
>what you mean.

Book...

Okay, a book is open in front of me. I basically can see two pages at once. My
eye can start at the top of the left page and scroll down it as quickly as I
can read. When I come to the next page, it is a short hop to it. Ditto,
downwards, turn page, start all over again.

This is so automatic most don't think about it (of those who have no problem
reading.)

Computer

My screen has on it 1/2 a page of text (having a 14" screen, my resolution is
set to the standard so I can see the letters, i.e., so they are big enough, I
do not have a 17" screen with smaller resolution, so basically all the text I
can get on one screen is 1/2 a page or 3/4 a page of text -- NOT a full page).

My eye starts at the top of the screen and reads downwards, when I get to the
bottom, I have to use my finger (Windows) to click on an arrow (Dos or to push
in a key), then I can see the rest of the page. Ditto to page turning.

Method one is quicker. Method two, I am aware that my eye gets to the bottom of
the page for the page click, usually before my finger is quite ready to click.

My finger is not as quick as my eye.

All I can say is try it. Over and over and you may see what I mean.

And I am NOT the only one in this thread, by far, who said that they can go
quicker with the printed page.

Later, Doe :-) (This is my LAST explanation and eye strain is also a big
factor, at least for me. Also I prefer reading with the book either level or at
less than a 45 degree angle, I do not have a portable computer or palm pilot
which means when I read electronically I am reading with the material at an 80
degree angle, i.e., it is vertical. Beyond this point you will have to take my
word for it that I can read faster non-electronically and since I read A LOT I
really do know what is easier for me.)

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
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R. Alan Monroe wrote:
>
> In article <01be6533$d49aba00$90d6...@Stark.foxinternet.net>, "Stark" <Stark4(delete-this-&-the-4)@foxinternet.net> wrote:
>
> >way. People will download books and read them through hand-held devices,
> >which will be about the size of a paperback book and easily portable (and
> >which will have a decent viewing screen for their small size).
>
> It will be a long time, if ever, before we have a screen that matches the
> resolution of ink molecules.


The ink on the printed pages may be made up of molecules, but it's a
huge distortion to say that we are seeing the fineness of molecular
resolution. Ink soaks into paper and bleeds, making rather large and
misshapen blobs if you look closely. Newsprint more than fine paper,
but a lot of paperback books aren't on the world's best paper stock.
That's why they're (supposed to be) cheap.

It won't be THAT long before a screen matches the blobby resolution of
ink-soaked paper.

--
J. Robinson Wheeler
whe...@jump.net http://www.jump.net/~wheeler/jrw/home.html

Joe Mason

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
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Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>
>Okay, a book is open in front of me. I basically can see two pages at once. My
>eye can start at the top of the left page and scroll down it as quickly as I
>can read. When I come to the next page, it is a short hop to it. Ditto,
>downwards, turn page, start all over again.
>
>This is so automatic most don't think about it (of those who have no problem
>reading.)

I'm going to reply that this is because you're used to this. If etext catches
on to the point where you end up reading a lot of it, I'm sure you'll end up
being as comfortable with it as you are with a printed book. It's only during
the changeover period that you'll have comfort problems like the ones you've
described. (Which is certainly significant, and will probably slow the
adoption of etext, but isn't as important if you take the long view.)

>My screen has on it 1/2 a page of text (having a 14" screen, my resolution is
>set to the standard so I can see the letters, i.e., so they are big enough, I
>do not have a 17" screen with smaller resolution, so basically all the text I
>can get on one screen is 1/2 a page or 3/4 a page of text -- NOT a full page).

Depends on the software you use. In my newsreader (SLRN), hitting the space
bar jumps me down so that the last line currently on the screen becomes the
top line. DOS/Windows software tends to scroll by half-pages instead. An
etext book would probably be set up with at least one way to scroll by an
entire screenful.

If you look at it as a screen = a page, that hitting a button to scroll by
a whole page isn't any slower than reading a book. You just have to hit the
"next page" button more often - but on the other hand, you never have to
actually flip the page, which takes longer (when I read in bed, it takes me
about 5 seconds to turn the page, since I have to roll over and get comfortable
again when I move from the left page to the right page).

I can see a palmtop device being made which is far more comfortable to read
than a standard book. None of the ones in existence right now (that I've seen)
live up to that, though, which leaves us in a position of arguing:

"But its not as comfortable!"
"Well, it'll be designed so that it WILL be!"
"But it isn't!"
"But it WILL be!"

So, like you, I don't see the point in arguing. When etext finally does begin
to spread, it'll evolve to a good comfort level. Until then, posting about the
merits of it won't get us anywhere. (Although posting about the disadvantages
as you've done is a valuable contribution, because it makes sure we won't
forget important points like eyestrain and scroll speed which otherwise might
be labelled "trivial".)

Joe
--
For example, in a mystery or horror game, each door is an unknown.
"What's behind... THIS door?" "Uh, a bathroom?" "Well... what's in
the BATHROOM?" "Uh, towels."
-- Steven Marsh

Trevor Barrie

unread,
Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
to
On 8 Mar 1999 05:09:00 GMT, Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote:

>Book...


>
>Okay, a book is open in front of me. I basically can see two pages at once. My
>eye can start at the top of the left page and scroll down it as quickly as I
>can read. When I come to the next page, it is a short hop to it. Ditto,
>downwards, turn page, start all over again.

"Short" by most standards, yes, but it depends on what you're comparing it
to.

>This is so automatic most don't think about it (of those who have no problem
>reading.)

This is an important point.

>Computer


>
>My screen has on it 1/2 a page of text (having a 14" screen, my resolution is
>set to the standard so I can see the letters, i.e., so they are big enough, I
>do not have a 17" screen with smaller resolution, so basically all the text I
>can get on one screen is 1/2 a page or 3/4 a page of text -- NOT a full page).
>

>My eye starts at the top of the screen and reads downwards, when I get to the
>bottom, I have to use my finger (Windows) to click on an arrow (Dos or to push
>in a key), then I can see the rest of the page.

Which has to take significantly less than a quarter of the time it takes
to turn the page. Just look at the mechanics involved: to turn the page
you have to grab the page (possibly fumbling to separate pages), bring
your hand over a good ten centimetres, release, then bring it back. To
press a key, you need to move one finger a fraction of a centimetre. Even
if you do this four times as often as you'd have to turn the page, it's
still going to take less time.

>All I can say is try it. Over and over and you may see what I mean.

I'm pretty sure most of us are trying it; how else would we read posts?

>Later, Doe :-) (This is my LAST explanation and eye strain is also a big
>factor, at least for me. Also I prefer reading with the book either level

>or at less than a 45 degree angle, I do not have a portable computer or

>palm pilot which means when I read electronically I am reading with the
>material at an 80 degree angle, i.e., it is vertical. Beyond this point you
>will have to take my word for it that I can read faster non-electronically
>and since I read A LOT I really do know what is easier for me.)

Sure, but it seems to me that this has to be due to familiarity rather
than electronic paging being inherently slower.

Also note that thse sorts of subjective estimates may not be all that
reliable. Eg: like most people, I'm fairly convinced that using a
command-line interface is significantly faster than using a GUI. But I've
heard of studies indicating that this is an illusion; it seems faster
because we don't noticed the fraction of a second it takes to remember a
command syntax, while we do notice the time it takes to drag a cursor
around the screen. (I haven't done any actual checking into the issue yet.)
Similarly, as you say most people don't actually notice the act of turning
a page, so we may not realize how much time it actually takes.

R. Alan Monroe

unread,
Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
to
In article <36E387F8...@jump.net>, whe...@jump.net wrote:
>> It will be a long time, if ever, before we have a screen that matches the
>> resolution of ink molecules.

>The ink on the printed pages may be made up of molecules, but it's a
>huge distortion to say that we are seeing the fineness of molecular
>resolution. Ink soaks into paper and bleeds, making rather large and
>misshapen blobs if you look closely.

Yeah I was thinking of that when I posted :^) Just trying to keep it
short and sweet.

Ever laconic
Alan

BabelFish

unread,
Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
to
ler...@uni-duesseldorf.de (J"urgen Lerch) penned:
>But I can sit - or lie, if I read in my bed for too long - on a book
>and it still stays basically ok. DON'T try this with a laptop/palmtop/
>whatever ...

Heh. I've fallen asleep with my laptop on my lap (amazing) while in
bed, and then been awakened later by the *crunch* of the laptop
hitting the floor. That laptop doesn't work anymore.

It was old anyway - a 286 monochrome Mitsubishi thing, weighed about
40 lbs.

But now I've been awakened (I can't figure out how to say that so it
sounds good) by the *crash* of my keyboard falling onto the floor,
since I now have a desktop next to my bed.

I just can't win. :)

-r
although I wouldn't mind one of those e-book things, but i'd abhor
having to pay for the books. if someone could establish an online
library of current books (yes, i know about the archive of
out-of-copyrght books) i'd love it. but y'know.


ray...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
Mar 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/26/99
to
I saw some advert. on one of the airline mags. some Japan
company came out with a paperback size lcd book with
changable rom cards that contained a whole book.
Any idea who and at what price?
Ray

In article <7boobv$mub$1...@oak.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,


"John Escobedo" <john...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> I agree... reading on electronic media (and I do it a lot)
> is hard on most eyes.
>
> It's not as bad on palm tops though. The main problem is
> reading from projected lighting instead of reflected light.
> A screen is projecting light out from it.. While paper
> just reflects light.
>
> When then can make an 'opaque' screen that changes color
> by rotating micro prisms, and it is lit the same way you light
> a book (i.e. shining a light ON in). Then we might get something
> that 'feels' like paper does to the eyes.
>
> Many have been in development since the 80's but it is
> still to expensive. A postage stamp sized screen still costs
> $3000 to make. Meanwhile, LCD's have come a long
> way too and are infinitely cheaper.
>
> Imagine opening what looks like a one page book that you can
> 'write' on with a pen. I can thing of an interactive version of Myst
> (for those of you familiar with the books, not just the game) where
> you practice 'The Art' and write out the worlds you want to explore.
>
> So what do you think?
> John
>
> R. Alan Monroe wrote in message ...

> >In article <01be6533$d49aba00$90d6...@Stark.foxinternet.net>, "Stark"
> <Stark4(delete-this-&-the-4)@foxinternet.net> wrote:
> >
> >>way. People will download books and read them through hand-held devices,
> >>which will be about the size of a paperback book and easily portable (and
> >>which will have a decent viewing screen for their small size).
> >

> >It will be a long time, if ever, before we have a screen that matches the

> >resolution of ink molecules. But nothing compares to the sheer ease of
> >use you get when you thumb through a book, riffling the pages. I suspect
> >that our brains can actually make more use of what we see whizzing by
> >than most people expect. Sure it's not "reading" but you get just the right

> >amount of context to land exactly where you want. I could probably think


> >of a half dozen ease of use advantages for traditional books. About the
> >only downside is square footage requirements.
> >

> >Have fun
> >Alan

Andy Fischer

unread,
Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to
Hey, is this ebooks thread still active? I recently saw an article about
"eInk".. the kind of stuff we were talking about. It's ink that has particles
or something inside (never took physics; don't know what to call them) that can
be oriented one way or another, giving you two colors that can be changed by
electronic impulse, and so one can read reflected light instead of projected
light. The resolution is something like 400 dpi-- not the greatest. But it's
bendable, and they can make pages and pages of it. Apparanty, though, it's
still too expensive for mass consumption. The ink is cheap enough, but the
electrode part isn't.

It was in some recent publisher's magazine. Maybe the title of the magazine was
Ink. I don't remember. Anybody else seen it?

Andy


Mike Berlyn

unread,
Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to

Andy Fischer wrote in message <7dotd3$j...@newsstand.cit.cornell.edu>...


Warning: Anytime anyone mentions eBook, my "obligatory post" program kicks
in and I see an opportunity too good to pass up, that being an opportunity
to plug our eBooks which are for sale at http://www.cascadepublishing.com. I
normally would not be so crass as to mention their availability for the Palm
platform, but hey -- what can I say, I'm a crass and commercial publisher.

Thank goodness I stopped myself in time, this time.

-- Mike

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