Re: Techwriting history

Subject: Re: Techwriting history
From: letoured -at- together -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 12:15:39 -0400

In <200208280913 -dot- 17K2Ds2XI3Nl3pm0 -at- niles -dot- mail -dot- mindspring -dot- net>, on 08/28/02
at 02:13 PM, "Martin Page" <mpage -at- csl -dot- co -dot- uk> said:

>OK, you caught me being flippant. Mea culpa.

Oh, I wasn't trying to criticize. I was just trying to make the point that
life-experience changes the view, the perspective of what was intended -- and
that writer had the experience to place the instructions in the correct
context. I also should have pointed out more clearly that sometimes, there
are emotional -- human -- factors that alter the need to write in a cut and
dried structure -- especially for non-routine conditions.

I once came across a set of operating and safety questions written for a power
plant in the 1930s. My first surprise was to see they were not very different
from what is written today, even though the technology has changed time and
again. My second surprise, was to realize that there isn't a better way to do
it, without losing contact with the emotions that humans have to control if
the process is to be carried out correctly.

Most people never get to write material like that old Jap did -- and it takes
years of training and experience to do so -- but they are part of technical
instructions because people have to be prepared for the things that can't be
set down in steps. -- It's technical writing in the the human dimension that
controls how we respond to the unexpected when it matters most.

>As an example of writing from the user perspective, I thought it was
>extremely effective, hence its impact. It handled the delicate matter of
>sending the user to his death in easy stages. The young pilot would have no
>surprises along the way. The last time I read anything like this, it was in a
>self help book on dying. <shudder>

>It must lose a lot in translation, and by being taken out of cultural and
>temporal context.

><letoured -at- together -dot- net> wrote in message news:166822 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-

>> Its an issue of perspective. Anyone who has been in the military, and
>> experienced the moment when death is near or possible or expected, would
>> understand the language. Anyone who has written manuals where know-how
>> the basis of the job, would understand the language.
>> Its actually quite well written. It would more interesting to know how
>much of
>> the impact is lost in the translation.

letoured -at- together -dot- net

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