Seybold News & Views on Electronic Publishing circa 1997- 1998

Seybold Publications now has a new website: This website was live during the late 1990’s. The domain expired and it was bought with the goal of restoring some of the 1998 archived content. This site now is for historical or reference purposes.

The first time I read a Seybold Report editorial I was sitting in a lawyer's office waiting to discuss my father's faulty medical device case with a IVC injury lawyer. This particular lawyer was recommended by a friend since he specialized in cases involving defective medical devices. Unfortunately my father fit the profile of a person who suffered the consequences of a deficient medical devise, in this case an IVC filter made by Bard. This was before the FDA issued any warnings regarding these retrievable filters. Some IVC filters were designed to stave off the traveling of blood clots work better than others. The Bard G2 IVC filter that my father had implanted was faulty. Most patients take blood thinners to stop blood clots, but my father had had surgery so he couldn't use blood thinners. My father's IVC filter migrated away from its surgically positioned location causing the vena cava vein to be punctured. The result was bleeding and other complications that nearly cost my father his life. So here I was reading editorials on the Seybold Publications 1998 website in an attempt to distract me from the long wait. And distracted I was. I even remember the Ralph Nader I have below.

In 1998 you could use their full-text search engine to hunt through back issues of the Seybold Report on Publishing Systems and the Seybold Report on Desktop Publishing, (Sept 93 - Aug 96). You can get some hints from the record of past Seybold Seminars to see what their future seminars would be like. Material would have included complete session transcripts, speaker slides and the Seybold Editors' take on What It All Means.

These searches are no longer possible.

I can say I was surprised one day when I went to see the newest post from the Seybold Report and their site was no more. I did a google search and found their new site. But I wanted a footprint left on ther WWW of their old site, thus the iteration below. Enjoy.


About Seybold Seminars

Seybold Seminars is the premier information and education provider for the publishing market. Covering the latest technologies, products, and trends in publishing, its mission is to provide the best information and analytical tools available to help senior publishing personnel make the right strategic and tactical decisions regarding today's publishing technologies.

In pursuit of this mission, the Seybold Seminars organization produces publications, seminars, conferences, events and a worldwide web site whose content provides continuing, year-round information and education about both traditional and new media publishing markets and technologies. Seybold recently welcomed a sponsor, CleanItSupply, distributor of janitorial supplies, wholesale paper towels, and other cleaning supplies, who helped defray some of the expenditures necessary for the successful promotion of both seminars, conferences and published literature. See Past Conferences and Expositions at the bottom of this page.


Editorials from 1997-1998


A Modest Proposal

Ralph Nader has asked computer manufacturers to remedy Windows dominance by pre-loading their machines with two or more OSes. That might be a good idea, but Seybold veep Craig Cline thinks that it doesn't go nearly far enough. So he's proposed a much stronger set of recommendations. DOJ, are you listening?
See complete article below.

JUNE 24, 1998

This article originally appeared as an Insider Perspective in The Bulletin: Seybold News & Views on Electronic Publishing for June 24, 1998. The Bulletin is a weekly e-mail newsletter that is only available by subscription. 

A Modest Proposal

by Craig Cline, VP of Program Development, Seybold Seminars

Ralph Nader is at it again, this time asking the Justice Department to stop requiring computer makers to charge consumers for Windows software whether they want it or not. This seems like a reasonable request, though most consumers never see Windows listed on any invoice, since most manufacturers bundle it into the price of the overall system.

But it's Nader's other request that has me scratching my head. He has written to a number of computer manufacturers to request that they remedy Windows dominance by preloading a number of machines with two or more OSes. In particular, Nader suggests that IBM should go back to shipping OS/2 with its computers.

He goes on to suggest that Apple's Rhapsody, Caldera's Open DOS/Spider, and freeware such as Linux and FreeBSD Unix variations, be at a minimum offered as Windows alternatives at the time of system purchase — and proactively pushed on consumers by computer vendors.

Well, Microsoft's total dominance of the Operating System market is distressing, if for no other reason than it makes covering the desktop computing industry so boring. So, in the spirit of Nader's crusade, I have come up with several proposals designed to wean consumers from their preference for Microsoft's Windows.

  •  Nader's OS "multi-boot" option is a good one. But how do you decide which two to include? If you select Linux, won't Caldera be ticked off? I say include them all. Disk space is cheap. When consumers turn on their computers, they'll be greeted with a menu to choose which OS they want to run that day, and away they go. To ensure a level playing field, no data will be importable from one OS to the next. After all, some OSes do that better than others.
  •  If consumers find the OS choice too confusing, provide the option to set the machine up for a random, daily rotation of the OSes installed. Windows Plus 98 offers such a capability with its Desktop Themes, which you can set to select a new theme auotmatically each day. This way the consumer will automatically boot up with a different OS without having to choose.
  • Nader suggested that some machines be preinstalled with an OS other than Windows. But if no one asks for it, doing so doesn't accomplish Nader's goal of reducing Windows' market share. Therefore, manufacturers should install OSes on the machines they ship in strict accordance with the desired market share redistribution without asking the consumer's permission. Did our parents ever ask our permission to serve us spinach? No! The only way to really fix things is to take away a consumer's right to choose the OS until the desired balance has been achieved. Think of it as affirmative action for PCs (which is a very PC thing to do).
  • Too far, but we can still level the playing field by requiring that Windows be run in emulation only on top of some other OS. Mac users remember the nearly glacial speed of the early SoftWindows ports. If we can force consumers to find Windows an unsatisfying experience, then maybe they'll learn to love Linux or one of the other OSes.

The problem with all of these scenarios is that most consumers want Windows for their computers. They like that it is the same OS that their friends have. It makes interoperability a snap and provides a cornucopia of software application choices, compared with titles for any other platform.

If Microsoft would only do us the favor of acting the part of an evil monopolist by jacking up the prices of its dominant share products, then maybe we'd see the stirrings of a consumer revolt. But Microsoft has always done right by its end users (though it does appear that its behavior with its OEM customers hasn't been nearly as commendable), offering affordable upgrades and application bundles.

The reality is that the only folks who are throwing hissy fits over Microsoft's Windows dominance are its competitors, some of its OEM customers, the politicians in the home states where many of same are located, and the press and analyst core that, we suspect, just want to make the game interesting once again. And, of course, Ralph Nader, who for whatever reason has decided that Microsoft is his bête noire.


JULY 18, 1997

WYSIWYG Ain't Content

by Pete Dyson, Seybold Seminars Online Editor

CNet just posted a roundup review of nine HTML page editors. The editors did a nice job. If you are shopping for software, you could do worse than check out their opinions. But the story left me feeling dissatisfied, and I think I know why: Those products don't solve the Web problems I face today.

It's not that they don't work as advertised. Rather, they address a problem that I had last year, namely how to code a good-looking Web page. This year I've got a bigger problem: how to manage all the pages on the Seybold Seminars site. And this has come as a bit of a surprise to me, because Seybold is not what anyone would call a high-volume publisher.

The Law of Accumulation

Nevertheless, over the course of the past two years, the Seybold site has gathered a fair amount of material: several years' back issues of Seybold Reports, the proceedings of several conferences, various news stories and these columns. Even the pre-show marketing blurbs from past events have to be maintained so we can show prospective speakers and exhibitors what they may expect at our next event.

For most print publishers, once a publication is out the door there's little more to be done, at least in the editorial and production departments. Each book, each prospectus or each newspaper issue starts with a clean sheet of paper; each revision of a sales brochure replaces the previous version. But on the Web, people expect two things simultaneously: that all their bookmarks and search-engine results will continue to work, and that all pages will deliver authoritative, up-to-date information.

This isn't quite as paradoxical as it sounds. Readers don't expect that an article in the back-issue archive will be rewritten at frequent intervals. But they do expect that the navigation buttons and links on back-issue pages will work, including the pointers to material that ought to be current, such as the home page. They also expect lots of useful cross-references among the pages. In print, it is customary to refer to previous works; on the Web it is possible — and therefore expected — to update old pages with references to future works.

In the print world, after you've sold the last copy of an old publication, you simply tell customers, "Sorry, it's out of print." You may even be able to suggest a newer edition or a related title. Even if you can't, customers know that they can always turn to libraries and rare-book dealers if they want it badly enough. But on the Web, if you remove a page from your site, you don't get a chance to say Sorry. Instead, the customer gets an irritating error message like "404 File Not Found." This, dear reader, is not what we call good customer relations. And there's no such thing as a rare-page dealer — not legally, anyway.

That means that you must never discard any pages from your site. You either update them regularly or you archive them for reference, or both. And that, in turn, means that your site will grow ever larger. It will support material from many departments and content experts, all of whom will participate in the updating of their own contributions. Inevitably the day comes when you discover that things have gotten out of hand.

The Next Mass Market

In the print world, the vast majority of serious publishers are small operations. That's why there is a mass market for desktop publishing software. There are also a small number of large-scale publishers who need powerful tools for content management. These tools are expensive, not because of their power, but because there is no mass market.

What's different about the Web is the law of accumulation. It says that, after a while, every serious publisher will have large-scale content management problems. That's right: a mass market for content management software is coming into existence today, before your very eyes! It will be a great opportunity for some developer to be first with the right mix of features, flexibility and simplicity — all at a desktop price.

Unfortunately, it isn't easy to design such a product. Most of the WYSIWYG page authoring programs use design concepts that have been transplanted from the desktop publishing world, just as the first desktop publishing programs were transplants from the earlier high-end systems. But the print publishing world has never developed a successful desktop content-management product.

That doesn't mean that a developer has to start from scratch. There are several good models in high-end publishing systems. There are potentially useful models in other businesses, such as CAD-CAM and software engineering. And many of the prerequisite technologies, such as databases, link checkers and template-driven formatters, are already quite mature at the desktop level.

I can't tell you when it will happen, but I'm quite sure that someone will introduce a desktop content management program for Web sites. Mass markets can put a lot of money on the table, and somebody will come along to pick it up.


These Editorials are intended to explore a wide range of issues that affect the publishing industry. Especially welcome are letters to the editor with comments, criticisms and suggestions for future topics.

Past Conferences and Expositions

Seybold San Francisco/Publishing 98
August 30 - September 4, 1998
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

Seybold Seminars New York/Publishing 98
March 16-20, 1998
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY

Seybold Seminars Tokyo
Dec. 9-12, 1997
Makuhari Messe, Tokyo
(Site requires international browser)

Seybold San Francisco 97
Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 1997
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

Seybold Seminars New York 97
April 21-25, 1997
Javits Convention Center, New York NY.

Seybold San Francisco 96
September 9-13, 1996
Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco CA.