5.0187 Computing: CAI Expensive; DTP Cheaper/Better (2/59)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 25 Jun 91 16:48:29 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0187. Tuesday, 25 Jun 1991.

(1) Date: Tue, 25 Jun 91 11:23:22 BST (19 lines)
From: Donald A Spaeth <GKHA13@cms.glasgow.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 5.0166 Why Prove Computers Do It Better?

(2) Date: Tue, 25 Jun 91 11:10:56 GMT (40 lines)
From: Christopher Currie (IHR) <THRA004@MVS.ULCC.AC.UK>
Subject: Cost of Computing

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 91 11:23:22 BST
From: Donald A Spaeth <GKHA13@cms.glasgow.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 5.0166 Why Prove Computers Do It Better?

Dana Paramskas asks why we have to prove that computers can do it
better. I can think of two reasons.

(1) computer-based instruction is expensive, in terms of equipment
and time devoted to preparing materials, not to mention
student time in learning to use computers (computer-based teaching
means more than just CALL). In other words, there is an opportunity
cost to teaching with computers.

(2) If it's not broken, why mend it? Teaching has proceeded quite
happily for a long time without computers.

Donald Spaeth
Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History with Archaeology and
Art History (CTICH)
University of Glasgow
gkha13 at cms.glasgow.ac.uk (US order)
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------53----
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 91 11:10:56 GMT
From: Christopher Currie (IHR) <THRA004@MVS.ULCC.AC.UK>
Subject: Cost of Computing

There is one sure way in which computing can reduce costs in the
humanities: the use of wordprocessors, direct typesetting and DTP
in compiling and publishing our work. Given the price of scholarly
books this is not a trivial issue, even if it's not trendy in
computing circles.

The department for which I work produces reference books. Their real
cost per page fell by 55 per cent between 1979 and 1989. The cash price
per volume rose by about 20 to 25 per cent, which was considerably less
than the UK retail price index and far less than the average price of
academic books published in the UK. This price reduction was achieved
by using computer technology. In addition, there have been savings in
typing costs and the checking of typescripts. We have been gradually
moving towards DTP, which we have been using for small jobs for about
two years, and we expect to make some further savings. Those made so
far greatly exceed the capital and running costs of the equipment.

If we could find a reliable way of publishing
online, without undermining the market for the printed volumes,
I am convinced that distribution costs, and the price to the
individual scholar, could be reduced still further, even if the
network users had to pay the real cost of transmission (excluding
monopoly profits, of course).

And of course the micros which we use for this purpose can also be
used as research tools and ways of producing more illustrations at
a lower price. Here the problems are mainly those of staff
conservatism and working out cost-effective ways of doing certain
tasks using the computer. It is not cost-effective for everything.

You would be surprised at the number of scholars who still do not
use wordprocessing effectively, or who are prevented by their
publishers from supplying text on disk to save printing and
editing costs.