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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Monday, April 17, 2006

    e-Journals with readability in mind

    The latest issue of Tom Wilson's Information Research - 11(3) - contains an article by Terrence A. Brooks: No bad web pages: reader empowerment and the Web. As the article is about readability, Tom in his editorial
    suggested to the author that the paper had a structure, and a topic, that made it an ideal paper to experiment with the concept of 'screen rhetoric'; that is, the design of Web pages to reflect the fact that they are viewed on screen, rather than being read on paper...
    and the author agreed. The result is a version which can be viewed page-by-page and which is a lot easier on the eye than the usual long scroll to freedom. This is an experiment, and comments are asked for. I have already e-mailed suggestions that - while I like the overall approach - pages look too black (I think this is less to do with the font than with design and page layout) and that a more adventurous design would improve the readability.
    I was disappointed that the conventional linear approach to presentation had not been improved on - starting on page 1, move to next or previous pages, and on and on to the end seems wrong for screen reading.
    A contents window would have allowed section selection; with longer articles, themed paths through the article (or in the journal, across several articles) would work well; linking (with an explanation) to other sections which use the same reference is another possibility. Granular (i.e. by paragraph) tagging would present another means of moving around. Articles which offer comparisons could divide into 2 columns to allow parallel viewing of the 2 critiques, or a view of the item being critiqued beside the review.
    But this is required reading before you too can comment! Certainly it is a neat and pleasant read, and quite an improvement on the usual e-journal presentation.

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