Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November
BY BOB WALTERS
E-PUBLISHING AND THE PLANNER
How to transfer meeting content from paper handouts to
Given all of the hype about e-commerce, it is interesting to
note that the most frequent use of the Internet is for the purchase
of reading matter. A survey by CommerceNet/Nielsen Media Research
shows more than 9.2 million users bought books and information off
the Internet in 1999 2 million more than the second highest
category, CDs and videos. This shows the initial purpose behind the
Web sharing information is still its main use.
As the dispersal of information is also the main goal of
meetings, much of what goes on in the conference room can be
converted to digital form and offered to attendees for downloading
into Palm Pilots, eBooks and other portable devices. While most
planners will not code the documents themselves, knowing the
language of e-publishing can help you see that the job is done
WHAT TO PUT UP
The easy route when deciding what material to publish is to put the
text of all abstracts, handouts and speeches on your Web site. But
with a little work, you can greatly enhance the value of the
Take the scenario of a session where the handouts refer to
published materials as well as Web sites. By converting the handout
from a file such as a Word document into an e-publishing format
(probably a PDF file, which can be read with Acrobat Reader, or an
HTML file, which can be read in your browser), you make it
transportable I could download it to my Rocket eBook, for example.
You also can embed links so a reader can click to related documents
or Web sites.
Remember, you might be dealing with copyrighted materials and
need to take steps to protect the author. For more information on
these rights, visit the World Intellectual Property Organization
The next step is to build an interactive library that can expand
the scope of the session. It can take on a life of its own by
permitting people to submit research documents or to share their
THE LONG AND SHORT
Often, a speaker doesn’t get to every point on the agenda. When
making speaker materials available for download, your only
constraint is disk space; it doesn’t matter how much is
e-published, as long as it is relevant.
However, e-publishing is also great for offering brevity: quick
synopses or a small document that concisely presents another view
A move is underway to set standards for e-publishing files.
Meanwhile, the most widely used formats are PDF or HTML. The
advantage, at this point, goes to PDF. This format captures the
exact look of a printed page. The downside is the files are larger
and take longer to download.
HTML files are smaller and a little more flexible, but it is
harder to retain the look of the original document.
Several tools are available for e-publishing. Some are full
publishing systems, while others are conversion programs. One
product, E-ditor Pro (available from www.e-ditorial.com/software.html; $99.95), includes
security features to prevent unauthorized distribution or
To publish materials for a Palm Pilot or Handspring Visor, use a
free utility called iSilo (www.isilo.com) to convert the documents.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Once you create e-libraries and people start downloading documents
and making contributions, you might want to establish a fee-based
subscription service that lets users outside your "usual" sphere of
attendees have access to these e-publications.
For more information, go to Places for Publishers (publishing.about.com/arts/publishing/msub19.htm).Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch,
Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of
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