RE: Future of Technical Communications: New Media?

Subject: RE: Future of Technical Communications: New Media?
From: BMcClain -at- centura -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 15:21:56 -0400

Hi, Chantel,

<<Are any of you producing any type of technical documentation that would
fall under the new media category, and if so, how did you break away from
traditional manual-based docs?>>

We techcommers will always have to think primarily in terms of our audience
and our purpose, but having to make directorial decisions as well as
editorial ones is indeed a new and under-explored dimension. (And one I'm
reminded of painfully when I sit through yet another overproduced PowerPoint

Weirdly, I created an interactive DOS character-based demo/tutorial of a
collections management system about--Eeeek!--seven years ago. The tool I
used was an early version of Dan Bricklin's Demo Designer. (Last time I
checked, there was a Win32 version in addition to/instead of the old DOS
one.) Not very snazzy compared to, say, interactive streaming video, but it
forced me to think about the content writer as director. I find I asked
myself a lot of unfamiliar questions such as, "Is this animation sequence
(redrawing a bunch of characters on the screen) to distracting? Does it
emphasize a point I want to make? Am I giving the reader--oops,
viewer--enough control over the pacing and navigation through the
presentation? What kind of interim questions am I likely to be raising in
his/her mind at this point in my explanation of something? How do I
effectively anticipate those for him/her?"

Don't know if this is helpful, but respond off-list if you want to call to

Bill McClain
("Writers are always selling somebody out." - Joan Didion)

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