RE: Manual for Bicycle riding

Subject: RE: Manual for Bicycle riding
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 10:56:05 -0500

If you want a good example of a book that teaches a physical skill, pick up
a copy of The Complete Klutz' Guide to Juggling. It comes with three bean
bags that are easy to learn with. In about an hour, I was able to juggle
three things!

While this is not a really difficult technical training skill, it is a good
approach to teaching physical things - lots of reinforcement, lots of "this
part is going to take time to master" stuff ... but the outcome was pretty

Now, if only I felt you could teach someone to swim by just reading a book

My 2¢


-----Original Message-----
From: John Locke [mailto:mail -at- freelock -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2001 10:48 AM
Subject: Manual for Bicycle riding

Jonathan Soukup wrote:
> I would kind of relate it to riding a bicycle. It's not really
> that difficult, but I would have liked to have a lot more
> instruction than just my father running behind me yelling at me to pedal.
That begs the question: How do you write instructions for tasks that usually
require hands-on training?

I'm trying to picture a manual instructing users on how to ride a bicycle.
Seems that any attempt would fall flat...

And somehow, I don't think a sticker on the seat showing you how to put your
butt there, and others near the handlebars or pedals would help.

Seems like a great illustration of the biggest problem of technical writing:
the media are limited to, at best, two dimensional moving pictures. None of
that can capture all of the sensory information you put to use riding a

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Describe how you would
approach the problem of teaching someone who has never seen a bicycle to
ride one--with contemporary technology, a limited budget, and no personal
contact with the end user.

Bonus points: do it on paper.

John Locke

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