WPDFD Issue #42 - September 01, 2001
There are as many different types of web writing as there are genres of web sites. They range from corporate and small-business sites through family and community webs to personal pages and creative experiments. All these have one common requirement – coming to terms with a new and evolving medium. A web writer has to be good at understanding communication in general and, in particular, how web communication differs from books, radio, TV, brochures, billboards or singing in the pub.
It doesn't really matter how you get the words from your head onto a Web page except that the process should be as transparent as possible. That comes down to being comfortable with your computer and software and not letting them color your thoughts in any way. Using pen and paper gives the ultimate in transparency but still needs somebody to decipher the handwriting and key it into a computer.
Where MS Word more or less forces you to write in a linear fashion (I find its outliner feature virtually useless) I have never written in that way. Z-Write is a "non-linear" word processor, not strictly an outliner, but allows the writer to throw unrelated ideas into a melting pot and then rearranging them into a more coherent document later. I find that building a skeleton first and then going back and fleshing it out helps the logical structure of my documents making it easier to keep a train of thought and ensuring that I don't miss any salient points.
Having tried other forms of speech recognition on both Mac and PC, I approached ViaVoice with a high degree of skepticism. A short while into the introduction, I was pretty certain that my preconceptions were correct. IBM do make the point that it is not a program for instant gratification so I stuck with it longer than I normally would in such circumstances. After a week of this, I was getting a surprisingly high degree of accuracy with "everyday" language.
Since the mid '80s, most programs use a WYSIWYG screen display, a virtual paper page into which you type or insert images. Before that, word processing programs made no pretensions about being WYSIWYG simply because the printing devices were just electro-mechanical typewriters. I know that some die-hard professional writers still prefer to use typewriters and there are others who do use computers but prefer a non-WYSIWYG writing environment.