In this Issue:
NAFEMS gathers feedback from the engineering analysis community in a variety of ways. The WorldWide Survey on CFD Information Resources that we are running is a current example. One of the messages that looks certain to emerge is the desire for greater electronic access to information.
The benefits of electronic documents are clear. Mounted on a company intranet site, or even the internet, far more engineers could have access to the documents than if they need to borrow a NAFEMS book from their company library (or from the desk of the NAFEMS member contact!). Costs of production and distribution are also lower, and electronic documents can be readily updated. Of course, things are hardly ever that simple.
Whilst the early feedback from the CFD survey does indicate increasing support for electronic documents, the same survey shows that support for printed documents is equally as strong. This agrees with other forms of feedback that we receive. Many engineers still prefer to leaf through a book to learn about a given topic. There are also a variety of other factors. Including a section from a web site as a reference in a technical report or paper is still a rarity – the very fact that it could be updated (or removed without trace) makes it far less dependable than a printed text complete with ISBN number. And what of copyright issues? NAFEMS must continue to protect the interests of its members, whose subscriptions pay for the documents to be developed. So electronic access to documents needs to be securely restricted to members. Somewhat surprisingly, this appears to be an area of technology where there is currently a lack of suitable solutions which have gained widespread acceptance.
Nevertheless, the world is becoming increasingly dependent upon the electronic media. I have no doubt that the arguments against electronic documents will disappear over the years to come and NAFEMS is totally committed to fulfilling the needs of its members.
In the next few months, we will be launching a new web site, which has been explicitly designed to include a repository for a large underlying database of electronic information in the future.
Coupled with this, we will be allowing members to access an online archive of articles from BENCHmark, as a pilot study to see how useful our members find electronic access to be. We will also be trialling electronic access to certain other publications, such as the Electronic Version of the CFD Jargon booklet that has recently been made available on the Members Section of the current website. As always, your thoughts and feedback on these developments would be highly valued.