Web Authoring Redefines Publication
As the Internet's popularity has grown and "more than 53 million Americans use the Internet to publish their thoughts, respond to others, post pictures, [and] share files" (Washington File, 2004), web authoring is redefining the publishing industry. The Web is "the most important development we've had in writing/publishing since Gutenberg," according to Mark Amerika, publisher of Black Ice literary magazine (Kendall, 1998).
Although early web pages closely resembled printed pages displayed on a computer screen, web designers are learning to make effective use of the Web's capabilities. Whereas print is two-dimensional, web pages can be N-dimensional, meaning that a well-designed page allows the reader to choose various navigational paths in moving through the web site (Nielsen, 1999).
Web designers traditionally use rigid navigation tools that are identical on each page of the website, but some designers question whether too much consistency can be boring, inviting readers to leave the web site too soon. Mark Bernstein's hypertext article “Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas” discusses navigation issues of web design by comparing web sites to gardens and linking to the garden path. His article offers an interesting journey in navigation itself.
Point of View
The Internet's inherent design makes point of view both an asset and a challenge for Internet users. User-friendly web authoring software and inexpensive web hosting have enabled virtually anyone to publish information. Knowing how to evaluate a web site's credibility has become a vital skill for all Internet users.
Censors are finding it hard to repress information when Internet users can view worldwide content. Readers can discover the diversity of viewpoints on global issues by reading online newspapers from other countries, as well as special interest (biased) websites that promote one point of view.
Copyright laws and the concept of ownership of ideas are being challenged and rethought as distribution and use of print material that appears on websites is difficult to control (Kendall, 1998). Google has heightened this discussion through its project working with major libraries to scan books and include them in their massive database (Roush, 2005).
Magazines and Newspapers
Major magazines and newspapers are placing their issues on the Web, even encouraging readers to go online for more in-depth information on stories. Some, like Atlantic Monthly are choosing to publish both a print and an online journal that extends the magazine's coverage of books, literature, and culture.
Blogs or web logs, personal websites that offer commentary and opinion on subjects ranging from politics to hobbies, have provided ordinary people with a publishing venue. Blogs began as "a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby" (Grossman, 2004), but have gained credibility as blogs like Power Line have become mainstream media watchdogs and literary blogs like Beatrice.com and Booklust influence book sales.
A Pew Internet and American Life survey reported that, as of late March 2005, six percent of the entire U.S. population has blogged and 16 percent have read blogs. This data suggests that people are increasingly seeking information from other sources than media outlets supported by advertising. This fact will force advertisers to seek new ways to reach readers (Haddix, 2005).
Web design's potential as a persuasive tool is already being felt in political, literary, and commercial areas. It has opened up new opportunities for reaching potential customers as seen by the large amount of "free" web content being supported by commercial advertising.
Mark Bernstein’s “Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas” discusses navigation issues of web design by comparing web sites to gardens and linking to the garden path. Creative layout and thought provoking ideas.
Topics in Readability Research contains links to information concerning web design, fonts, and readability.
Differences Between Print Design and Web Design : Jakob Nielsen contrasts print and web design and encourages designers to relish the difference and make use of web pages' N-dimensionality.
Grossman, L. (2004, December 27). Blogs have their day. Time, 164(26), 109-112. Retrieved on 9/28/95 from SIRS Renaissance via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>
Haddix, D. (2005, May 4). Media struggle with growing ‘blogosphere’. United Press International. Retrieved on 9/28/05 from SIRS Researcher via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>
Kendall, R. (1998, September/October). The World Wide Web: Publishing’s awakening giant. Poets and Writers, 74-87. Retrieved on 9/28/05 from SIRS Renaissance via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>
Lamb, G.M. (2005, June 23). How the Web changes your reading habits. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved on 9/28/95 from SIRS Renaissance via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>
Roush, W. (2005, May). The infinite library. Technology Review, 108(5), 54-59. Retrieved on 9/28/95 from SIRS Renaissance via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>
Washington File. (2004, March 3). Fifty-three million Americans helping create the online world. Retrieved on 9/28/95 from SIRS Government Reporter via SIRS Knowledge Source. <http://www.sirs.com>