Into the 21st Century

Editorial Orchids in NZ June 1994 

George Fuller has done it again.

I do not know what is in the water in Taranaki, but the recent Letter to the Editor from George has got me going. I am sure that he will not have anticipated the result, and perhaps it was just a throw away comment, but his final paragraph really hit the mark

In his letter, George raised the matter of spelling, and said "educate the memory of your word processor". A great idea George, but unfortunately, we, that is Orchids in New Zealand, are still living in the dark ages. Any copy is typed, and retyped, and perhaps even retyped again before it appears in the magazine. We still use little bits of paper and stick them together to make up the pages. Proofing of spelling and grammar and syntax is by eye (and brain - but it looks as if this Editor's brain needs reprogramming!!), often late at night usually in a hurry. The ability to have all the contents of the magazine in one - or several - files just does not exist. The ability to run a spelling checker over all material does not exist. There is some of material that 1 do not see set - other than in the final magazine. This in particular applies to the captions under the illustrations . Unfortunately time has been against us in this regard. I am working on improving this particular facet not there is a not a lot more that can be done, but it does highlight the difficulties

Computer technology has been around for a number of years, and is well established in the printing and publishing industry. 1 have been aware of the issue for some time, and have discussed it informally with a number of people, but not to the wider readership

Personal computers are widely available and not that expensive. The software is readily available, and while 1 know there are financial constraints, 1 believe we do need to look seriously at the implementation of full computer technology for the production process of Orchids in New Zealand. It should be possible to just type an article once, to run a spelling checker which will pick up most of the errors although there are still some that a checker will not pick up. Programs will take that material and paginate it correctly and make any adjustments necessary, position illustrations, and produce final camera ready copy with available printer technology. There is not even the necessity of using the post, the magazine (other than the illustrations) can be sent to the printer electronically, which can save time

The use of a computer is widely utilised in magazine production, and not just major publications. 1 believe Orchids Australia uses a system, and the Orchid Advocate does - recently embarking on a fund raising program to update their system, and we have not even looked seriously at getting our first one yet!

It requires computer literacy by the Editor, but 1 am sure there are plenty people available who have that knowledge when they take over the editorship. The technology is there, and it is not prohibitively expensive. From an Editor's perspective the use of such technology has many practical advantages and should assist in producing a better magazine. I believe it is a matter that we must consider - AND CONSIDER SOON. It will not answer all problems, but it certainly will involve a much better process than we currently use. If we do not adopt appropriate modern technology then we may well suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs - and 1 am sure you do not want that to happen

It is an issue that at least merits discussion. Perhaps we need to set up a computer fund to finance such a development.. It is not a matter of IF it will happen but rather WHEN.

1 have done no financial costing, and that is something that does need to he undertaken, but we are talking relatively modest sums. To be effective we need to co-ordinate with the printer, but 1 believe all round there are significant advantages.

Now see what you have started, George, you have really got me worked up. Lets hope these comments will start some serious discussion if the issues involved and the practicability of making such a change. Perhaps next year when we are 21 would be the time to get us ready of the twenty-first century

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