RE: non-tech techwr better for end users (was "same boat")

Subject: RE: non-tech techwr better for end users (was "same boat")
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 10:39:03 -0500

Tracy Boyington writes, in part:

...For example, my users are nursing students.... do I really want to know
*how* it works? Do I care where the sensor is, what sequence of events sets
it off, and how to change the light bulb? Not only do I NOT care about any
of that, but I will be irritated as hell if you make me wade through all
that useless information in the Owner's Manual when I'm trying to find what
I *really* want.


When I read Tracy's entire posting, I was slightly bemused. If she were
documenting a heart monitor or the like for her nursing students, then the
type of information that her students would probably want to know is exactly
the kind of information she castigated the auto writer for including.

Information needs vary all over the place. We cannot always predict what
some people will want and what other people will not want. We sure as hell
can't predict what one person wants at the exact moment they open a manual.

What we can do, however, is to ingest the entire body of knowledge available
on a subject, apply our own internal filtering mechanism, and present the
remaining information in a logical and easily navigatable structure so that
the reader can find what they want when they want it.

To do this requires us - the writers - to have the ability to learn new
information, relate it to other information we know, relate it to what we
can reliably expect our readers to know, organize it, communicate it
clearly, and hope for the best. That is, until someone develops a
psi-powered interface that reads the user's mind (if they have one!)

My 2¢,


John Garison
Documentation Manager
150 Baker Avenue Extension
Concord, MA 01742

Voice: 978-402-2907
Fax: 978-318-9376

Develop HTML-based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver! (STC Discount.)
**NEW DATE/LOCATION!** January 16-17, 2001, New York, NY. or 800-646-9989.

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