Community Learning Space

The infraNET Distinquished Speaker Seminar Series

The Future: Customized Help on the Internet?

- The Promise and Problems of Dynamic Information Delivery

Jamie Roberts

Advisory Information Developer
IBM Canada Laboratory

Thursday, January 29, 1998
2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Davis Centre, Room 1302
University of Waterloo


The World Wide Web has changed people's expectations of information. How people receive different kinds of information, what they can do with it, how timely it should be, how easy it is to access, how integrated it is with their daily experience, how applicable it is to them personally-these are all ways that Web technologies have changed people's information experience.

One of the most interesting elements of this change in expectation is the convergence of user assistance goals with Web, Intranet and Internet technologies. The promise of delivering online help or computer-based training to people from a network, in a fashion that customizes information for people, and in a way that matches their expectations from other kinds of "assistance experiences", is one way that the Internet will transform many of the ways we think about information. User assistance information can finally lend dynamic perspective to build complex contexts for its audience.

In keeping with this promise, Microsoft, for one, has announced and deployed a suite of network content tools and platforms. IBM too, has tried to take advantage of this promise with a corporate Information Architecture that addresses user assistance information on the Internet and Intranets.

Coupled with this promise, however, are some tremendous technical and artistic difficulties. Despite these problems, user assistance information on the Internet provides a good testbed for other information projects. In the course of this presentation, Mr. Roberts will outline what he sees as the upcoming difficulties in dynamic information delivery, and how IBM has tried to use available network technology to inform their customers more effectively.


James H. (Jamie) Roberts is an Advisory Information Developer at the IBM Canada Laboratory in Toronto, Ontario. He has also been involved with educational sales of computers and consulted for various companies on different multimedia projects and platforms, including corporate Intranets and Internet sites. Mr. Roberts is a doctoral candidate in the English Department of the University of Waterloo, and is a part-time faculty member at York University, where he teaches undergraduate courses on writing and technology for Glendon College.

For more information

Shirley Fenton
The infraNET Project
Computer Systems Group, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4074