Re: Textbook writing

Subject: Re: Textbook writing
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 09:53:40 -0800

"Foster, Willow" wrote:
> Hello everyone.
> I heard something very disturbing on the radio this morning. I didn't catch
> the whole thing but it seems that a many of the textbooks being used in
> classrooms today have great big whopping errors in them. A picture of Linda
> Ronstadt labeled as a molecule, and equator going through the United States
> were two of the examples I heard. As a technical writer and a mom, I find
> this unacceptable. Does anyone know if technical writers are employed for
> this type of work?

Another problem with textbooks is that they rarely go to original
sources for information. Instead, they go to older textbooks. As I
mentioned last week, in some cases, this copying has been going on
for decades; for example, Stephen Jay Gould traced the comparison of
early horses to fox terriers back to the Twenties, when the breed
was popular.

I don't know that technical writers are specifically involved, but
some people do make their living doing textbooks. From errors like
the ones mentioned (although I suspect that most people would know
that Linda Ronstadt wasn't a molecule), it sounds as though textbook
writers have as few resources, as limited time and/or as small a
knowledge as many tech writers.

Bruce Byfield, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

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Now there's holes in the mirrors and less and less applause,
We are all ungrateful bastards, like a dog that bit your hand,
All these years and you still don't understand."
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