Reflections on Output

by Steven Aoki
October 30, 1998
GRC 433 (Emerging Digital Trends)--Roger Siminoff
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo

I interpret "output" of the nineties as the visual publication of computer-stored data on any medium, e.g., as paper, as a World Wide Web page, as a multimedia presentation. We need output to add capabilities to the data that the creation software cannot provide, like easy highlighting on paper, display with less processing time, integration into the World Wide Web, or user-friendliness. As an example, it's easier for an editor to write evaluations on paper rather than on a monitor, and it's easier for viewers to read data without irrelevant design options distracting them.

We also need output to distribute data to other people, since having people read that data directly off one's creation software is somewhat inefficient. Typically, we don't output data that we don't want other people to see unless we need options that the creation software cannot provide. Hence, output carries a "distribution" connotation to it.

In the future, I propose that all output will primarily stem from digital databases. In this utopia, all presentational information like novels, articles, catalogs, designs, speeches, and TV shows will have internationally standard templates. Database fields, designed specifically for multimedia, will represent all recurring elements like titles, authors, dates, pictures, paragraphs, sounds, scenes, or commericials. We will repurpose each "document" by hiring designers to compose appearance instructions for various mediums. For example, editors will mark-up a TV episode to output as a broadcast, a preview, a script, a CD-ROM presentation, or an informational Web page. Publishers will comply due to the allure of revising one source instead of many. De facto standards will transfer from corporations to individuals, e.g., individuals will design their own diaries, notes, and scribbles. In this utopia, global informational exchange will become terrifyingly organized.