Military Embedded Systems

Paper vs. Digital: Where's the Information Value-Add?

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May 27, 2005

Chris A. Cuifo

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

Digital publications versus print: each has their merits, and Military Embedded Systems is available in lots of ?flavors?. Paper or plastic? Eat-in or take-out? MP3 or ATRAC3? Stand-alone DSP or FPGA? Digital publications versus print: each has their merits, and Military Embedded Systems is available in lots of ?flavors?.

 

Digital publications versus print: each has their merits, and Military Embedded Systems is available in lots of “flavors”.

Paper or plastic? Eat-in or take-out? MP3 or ATRAC3? Stand-alone DSP or FPGA? As consumers, the choices confronting us are endless, and in the Internet society we not only expect instant gratification, we’re disappointed if we aren’t overwhelmed with more data than we know what to do with. As engineers working in the defense industry, we straddle the fence between the hottest consumer and civilian technologies (traded in your Treo 600 for the 650 yet?), and the long life cycles and mission critical requirements of modern weapons platforms (will WiMax outlive WiFi on the battlefield?). In short: there are numerous possibilities for every decision we make, from groceries to technology to the way you obtain information from magazines like Military Embedded Systems.

While many would argue that a “real” magazine is published on paper with traditional advertisements and a monthly mailing, I am convinced our readers are smarter than that. While it’s definitely a matter of credibility and bragging rights to “thud” a magazine on a desk, electronic digital publications are increasingly important as well. When I’m on an airplane or waiting at the dentist’s office, I want to hold paper in my hands and read articles; this is the most convenient way for me to get information in those settings. And while I’ve pined for a TabletPC for about 2.5 years, I still can’t justify the expense of using one to replace paper magazines or note pads.

On the other hand, while working at my desk all day I’m constantly using the Internet for reference material. Google and Yahoo! are always in the background on one of my screens ready to search for keywords. And I have a Mac off to one side with Mozilla open and spooling a variety of RSS newsfeeds on topics that interest me, from the DoD budget to international events. Amid all of this, I occasionally bounce to a variety of technology websites (including OpenSystems Publishing) and scan through short articles just to stay abreast of new technology and applications.

The point is that I want information the way I want it, when I want it. Sometimes a print magazine is best, other times a search engine is my preferred tool, and occasionally I read electronic articles that never find their way onto paper. I’m convinced that our readers also want information the same way: tailored to their requirements, depending upon the situation at that moment.

That’s why Military Embedded Systems – and all of OpenSystems Publishing’s magazines – are available in a variety of flavors to suit your needs. If you’re reading this on your screen, chances are it found its way to you via an electronic letter we call an “E-Letter”, or perhaps you found it via search engine and archived on our website www.mil-embedded.com. Other information we publish will appear on paper in one of the print editions of MES, on our website, or even as a full digital PDF magazine complete with advertisements called an “e-Mag”.

And in other instances, you may be merely looking for a product such as a space-qualified, conduction-cooled VME single board computer with a G4 PowerPC: you’ll find that online too by searching through our Products database that currently holds 13,000 unique records. We’ll also soon be making our Products database available on CD for local searches or when Internet access isn’t practical, such as in secure facilities.

So is it paper or plastic? Digital or paper? It doesn’t really matter. I believe you should have access to the information you want, when you want it, and in the format that best meets your needs at that moment. It’s instant technical gratification with a military flair.

I hope you’ll continue to watch this space for more military insight. Next month: Remember "spin-off"? We’ll explore ideas for improving the technical communication between DoD labs and industry.

 

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