Re: On-Line Vs. Print, Single-Sourcing, and how to ignore the obvious

Subject: Re: On-Line Vs. Print, Single-Sourcing, and how to ignore the obvious
From: Goober <techcommgoober -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 06:47:41 -0700 (PDT)


Countering fact with opinion, man, I missed that about
you. *lol*

> You kids can yammer 97 ways to Sunday about the
> theoretical value and difference and similiarites
> between on-line and print - but the cold, hard,
> stiff,
> face up to it fact is - they are different and they
> are read differently.

Depends on the content, needs, and audience, dude.
Always has. Online... PDF? HTML? Help? JavaDocs?
Served TXT? Paper... Referece? Quick start? Q&A?
Procedural? Needs... Find info quickly? Understand the
big picture? Learn something from start to finish?

> I don't need some PhD in Sniveling Theorizing for
> English to know that the way I consume data from a
> hyper-linked web site or on-line help is
> fundamentally
> different then how I consume data from a piece of
> paper.

I don't have a PhD, and don't want one if I can't
apply it intelligently and rationally to my work. But
all degrees aside, just as you can easily see that
online and print are different, you can also see that
they can be incredibly similar. It all depends on the
needs and the situation... Or do we no longer apply
what we do to the situation at hand and just accept
and implement canned solutions? In which case, yeah,
fire all the tech writers and let the developers do
the doc work. Anyone can open a can and dump out the
contents. Hell, eHelp was banking on that by telling
developers they could author a complete Help system in
very little time with virtually no tech writing
skills... I guess canned solutions are the hip thing
these days. *lol*

> Hence, this is one of many millions of blatantly
> obvious concepts that the single-sourcing lunatics
> just want you to mildly forget about.

Yes, and forget about everything else too, as once you
single-source, you don't need to think or do anything.
Content creates itself, migrates itself to various
deliverables, and all you have to do is look busy for
8 hours a day and collect your paycheck at the end of
the week. ;)

> Its not to say you can't share data between these
> two
> media, but don't kid yourself - they are different.

Can you explain how a procedure is different between
online and print? The user does different things based
on how the instructions are delivered? Or a definition
can somehow be different when viewed online vs. print?
Or conceptual info is somehow different? The only
thing different is organization and a little variation
on how you reference other information within the
deliverable.

> Personally, I prefer to get the "Here is exactly
> how to do this" kind of information from on-line
> help. I look to a printed manual for theoretical and
> conceptual background.

And why can't you get this from single-sourcing? Or
are you too stuck in a repurposing mindset?

> However, since very few writers and companies are
> capable of putting out conceptual documentation, I
> invariably wind up researching the matter on my own
> and then trying to integrate that knowledge with the
> asinine ways that is implemented in whatever product
> I am using.

Right, so we shouldn't bother. *vbg*

OK, gotta run. My can opener just broke and I have a
deadline to meet. *rofl*

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References:
On-Line Vs. Print, Single-Sourcing, and how to ignore the obvious: From: Andrew Plato

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