It's been predicted that the software division is going to be the one to watch for brutal matches this year, and this opening pair-up is leading the pack in a major way! We've got two heavyweight candidates on the block vying for your votes. Who will move on to round two: the word processor or the web browser? Only ONE will survive the next three days!
Word processing as a technology dates back to the 1920s. Software that allowed typing and saving of documents to diskettes was available from the earliest incarnations of personal computers. Historic predecessors to modern WYSIWYG word processing software include Multimate, WordPerfect and pfs:Write.
Microsoft Word came along in 1983 and was designed to be used with a Mouse and display text in a "What you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) format. This style of word processor took off. MS Word helped to make common such tools as the spellchecker, the .doc extension and mail merges.
The cost of MS Word has been prohibitive for many artists, including stage managers. Free open source clones such as LibreOffice Writer have made word processing power more accessible.
It has been said on SMNetwork that Word, along with fellow competitor Excel, allowed stage managers to lead the charge bringing computers into the backstage environment. The question this year is whether or not it has been superseded by newer technologies as the most useful member of the SM's digital toolkit.
Word is facing a massive competitor in this first match in the form of the web browser. Web browser software has a history to rival word processing, dating back to NCSA Mosaic in 1993. Whether you use IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Dolphin, AOL Browser or some other software of choice, there's no denying that the web browser is the doorway to nearly every other competitor in this season's lineup.
Browsers can be big and unwieldy, and their exposure to the internet mandates frequent patching of security flaws to keep your data safe. It could be said that the difference between a smartphone and a dumbphone is delineated by the ability to handle a web browsing app.
The browser's existence as a portal to the internet makes it a dual-edged sword. While it can be a connection to historical data, web-based email and many of the tools we'll be discussing this season, it can also serve as a major distraction in the rehearsal room. Its siren song has led many stage managers to ban laptops in rehearsal.
Will this drawback be the downfall of the browser as it goes up against Word? Your votes will tell the story this week. This poll will remain open through Dec 3 at midnight EST.