Re: Tech-Reading vs. Other Reading

Subject: Re: Tech-Reading vs. Other Reading
From: Iggy <iggy_1996dp -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 05:43:49 -0700 (PDT)

> A short while ago someone asked whether tech-writing
> enhanced one's non-technical writing abilities. The
> answer
> seemed to be a resounding yes from members of this
> list.

There was? I thought we were on the fence over this

> I'd like to pose a similar question: does the
> reading of
> technical writing enhance your READING abilities
> with
> regards to other types of writing?

Allow me to interject a hearty "no".

> For me, the answer is (surprisingly) no. Lately,
> I've found
> that it's very difficult for me to read anything
> that isn't
> peppered with headings, sub-heads, bulleted lists,
> tables,
> graphs, figures, or captions. And this is driving me
> crazy
> because I've always been an avid reader of
> absolutely
> everything--novels, magazines, newspapers,
> screenplays,
> cereal boxes, toilet paper packaging...

Tech writing is very different from other forms of
writing (obviously). Information is presented in very
regimented portions. For the linear readers out there,
it frames the topic. For the fragmental readers, it
allows them to easilt find the info they need, and
know when to stop reading.

> I picked up an issue of The Economist the other day,
> but I had to quickly put it down because
> there
> were just these columns and columns and COLUMNS of
> text.
> Then I tried to re-read Pride and Prejudice
> and I found myself yearning for
> the
> bullet-pointed version:

> Is this normal? Does anyone else have this problem?

Most tech writers are information junkies by nature.
We love to absorb and retain. Unfortunately, as
junkies, we're in need of our quick fixes. It's much
easier to get those fixes in snippets rather than in
long discussions.

I have to admit, I find it hard to read anything long
in length and rich in text. I have a hard time
focusing on Intercom articles, novels, and so forth.
Newspapers, a lot of web sites, TV, radio, email,
technical documents, meeting agendas, etc. all feed us
what we need to know in snippets. We spend more time
reading these things than a good book or well-formed
article. It's a lifestyle. I don't think it's either
good or bad on its own, but I think a lot of people
are so used to the snippets that they are distancing
themselves from the richer media.

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Tech-Reading vs. Other Reading: From: R. Johnson

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