GUI Bytes

Librarian's Lament

what do specifiers need? what format works best?

One of the great problems specifiers face is "infoglut" - too much information. As noted in a previous column, I receive about 20 periodicals each month that are addressed to me; I see many others that are addressed to other people in my office.

Every day I get at least one phone call, asking if I would be interested in discussing the latest information about one or more products. Several times each week I receive new information in the form of brochures, binders, floppy discs, and, more recently, CDs.

Many manufacturers now use CSI's SpecData, and provide sample specifications that follow the guidelines established by CSI's MasterFormat, SectionFormat, and PageFormat. Despite these attempts at organized presentation, much of the information is poorly organized, confusing, and generally useless.

Why is it useless? Hardcopy information certainly serves a purpose, but it is cumbersome and rarely indexed in a useful way. To find a specific item, I must page through an entire binder without benefit of a keyword index. Many times the information is fragmented, so I don't know if I've missed some critical part.

Floppies and CDs contain one or more of the following: text information in ASCII, Word, or WordPerfect format; graphics in .dwg, .dxf, or some other format; or interactive programs that generate a specification or other form of information. Those who use CDs seem to feel obligated to fill the entire 650 meg available; besides specifications and details, they may include the company history, aerial photos of their factory and employees' houses, and favorite recipes served in the company cafeteria.

One of TechCom's subcommittees is looking into the way information is organized and presented. What do specifiers need? What do other design professionals need? What should be included? What should not be included? If you are interested in this subject, please contact TechCom. We would like to develop a standard format for reference information.

2002 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA 

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Material from CSI Chapter newsletters used with permission.