Re: Worthless Tech Comm Degrees

Subject: Re: Worthless Tech Comm Degrees
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 18:25:24 -0500

John and all,

This is related to another recent thread. Several list members offered
their personal aphorisms on the theme of "<vbg> I WTMF, I don't RTFM."

I thought about that a bit, in the context of learning styles. I don't
want to pontificate about learning styles, because I haven't read enough
on the subject to feel confident that I thoroughly understand it; but
the general notion is that some people learn better by reading, some by
doing, some by listening, etc.

What occurred to me is that a LOT of tech writers identify with those of
us who admit we never read a manual if they can avoid it--we just start
banging away at the software until we get stuck, then try to find
someone else to ask, then, only as a last resort, might consult Help or
a manual.

And then it occurred to me that this shared characteristic--our common
learning style of learning by doing or maybe, in some cases, by
listening--may be exactly what led many of us to tech writing in the
first place. <aside>The past tense of the verb _to lead_ is _led_. Is
anyone else as annoyed as I am by the number of people who lately seem
to think it is spelled _lead_, like the metal?</aside>

Here is a job where no one is going to ask us to read a manual, because
there isn't one here yet to read. Instead, we get to play with the
software or machine or widget or whatever, learning how it works. Then
we get to write it all down to explain it to other people--the ones who
learn by reading and looking at pictures.

There is some sort of ironic symmetry in all this, of course. We're
frustrated most by the users who are most similar to ourselves, the ones
who refuse to RTFM.

My .02


John Posada wrote:
> How do people learn this way? What happens if they
> need to copy the material at home and their notes are
> at work? Doesn't anyone just learn things anymore?
> OTOH, I get users that show me some software and about
> 5 minutes in, they'll ask "Aren't you going to write
> any of this down?"
> "No..., why?

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