Re: Can a Technical Writer be a Web Designer

Subject: Re: Can a Technical Writer be a Web Designer
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 09:37:06 -0600

>If you look at television, for every documentary/good drama there are
>chat/game shows etc - not dissimilar to the Web really! The question is
then is >this
>what people really wnat or is this what they've become used to?

The question of the day. Do people really want to depend upon unstable,
buggy devices with actively hostile interfaces, which become totally
unusable at the drop of a hat, and which routinely lose days, hours, even
weeks of work? Or is this what they've become used to?

I wonder (wandering off into musings) if there's a meaningful difference
between the two? Is it perhaps more appropriate to say that people want
what they've become used to?

Look, for example, at the resistance that immediately piles up whenever a
user interface is changed. Doesn't matter if the change is for the better,
for the worse, or neutral, there will always be opposition to it from those
who have become used to the old way.

The diversity issue is a major point. If all sites followed the rules of
Jakob Spool (yes, I did that intentionally) the web would be a boring place
indeed. Much like the corporate library here, it would be a place I'd visit
only when I had to, because of a need for data, never simply because I
wanted to. How many people read encyclopedias as recreation?

One thing I've learned through long experience. I give it to you freely,
now: Rules Are Made To Be Broken. Know the rules? Of course, don't be
silly. Obey the rules? Not always. Learn the rules well enough to
understand their Why, their raison d'etre. Then break them when necessary.
(NOTE: sufficient reason is *never* "because I am brilliant/talented/famous
and therefore they don't apply to me.") And be prepared to accept failure
when you do. (Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The secret of my success is that at
an early age I discovered I was not God.") Because, being merely human, you
will not always be right. Take comfort in the fact the rule makers share
this same characteristic.

Reasonable people adapt to their surroundings. They follow the rules,
because that's the safest path to take; people who break rules are often
broken *by* the rules. Therefore all progress depends upon the
unreasonable. Today's rule often began as a breach of yesterday's rules.

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I --
I took the one less travelled by.
And that has made all the difference."

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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