Just like our habits changed radically from the typewriter era to the desktop publishing era, so are they changing as we move from the desktop onto the web.
Where we used to write memos and newsletters tarted up with the fanciest fonts we could find, now we send quick emails, edit wikis, or post to blogs. We write more lightly formatted works for electronic publication and fewer heavily formatted works for print. Although many workers will still find full-featured word processors or desktop publishers necessary for producing (for example) massive software specs or book-length manuscripts, it’s increasingly feasible to rely on something other than Microsoft Word.
When he switched from Windows to Mac, InformationWeek’s Mitch Wagner found that NeoOffice was an acceptable substitute for Microsoft Office in his own work. Now he uses NeoOffice’s word processor for manuscripts intended for print and a cheap text editor for producing his web content.
RedMonk analyst Steve O’Grady suggested in February that the office suite market has peaked; if so, this has serious consequences for the competitiveness of desktop word processors relative to online document editors like Google and Zoho’s offerings. Though much discussion of whether these web-based applications could unseat Microsoft Office focuses on what features they provide, the more important issue may be how our writing and publishing behavior is changing.
The content we produce as web workers is increasingly:
- Shorter in length — think email
- Provisional and subject to change — think wikis
- Not intended for print — think blog posts
- Text-based, with formatting eliminated or stored separately — think HTML + CSS
And for that, we don’t need MS Word.
What text editor and/or word processor do you use and why? What such tools do you foresee as being most important in the future?