Re: Funny tech writing--article idea

Subject: Re: Funny tech writing--article idea
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 20:03:14 -0700

Sella Rush wrote:

I'd do it myself if I weren't swamped for the next few months, but I'd love to read an article interviewing the authors of humorous documentation such as the Helix watch doc.

I think it would be very interesting to hear they came to actually doing it--what they were trying to accomplish, what kind of audience analysis they did (Timex must have resources for this, right?), what hoops they had to jump to get approval. How did they deal with any concerns about "inappropriate" humor--or did they not worry about it? What was their background? etc.

Any humor-endowed unemployed tech writers out there looking for something to play with?

Non, merci!

Unless, that is, the article includes a lengthy section on why this is a bad idea.

The Helix watch instructions remind me of most bumper stickers and humorous T-shirts. The first time I read it, I thought them cute. Not brilliant, but cute. The second time, they started to grate. If I ever actually used the instructions, I'd be gritting my teeth and muttering about self-indulgent writers who can't focus on what they're supposed to be doing. If I were to have trouble finding a section I needed, or if a section were missing, I'd get decidely peevish. Cute has a very short shelf life.

I don't know if I'm more of a purist or a curmudgeon (decide for yourself - just don't tell me and puncture my self-image), but this sort of instruction just isn't the sort I want as a customer.

As a writer, I can see how instructions like this would be fun to write - but I also happen to believe that tech-writing is not about me indulging myself. In the long term, I don't think that humor does much to serve the needs of a user who needs some guidance.It's just noise in the signal - a distraction from the real purpose.

Snort! Harumph! If I had a cigar,I'd be chewing fiercely on it right now (being a non-smoker is SO inconvenient. I need to start some sort of vice if I'm going to pass my curmudgeon exams when I retire a few decades from now).

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"Paranoia does wonders for your imagination."
- Tom Holt, "Little People"

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RE: Funny tech writing--article idea: From: Sella Rush

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