Re: Reader responsibility

Subject: Re: Reader responsibility
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:47:26 -0700

Lisa Wright wrote:

But in fact communication is a two-way street.
Theoretically this is true. But one of the weak point of most communication models is that they are based on speech, and assume that the relation between a writer and reader is the same as that between speaker and listener. But in technical writing, as well as in most other types of writing, the feedback is received too late to do much good.

All that a writer can do is to analyze the audience or empathize with it, and try to anticipate and answer the audience's probable reaction.

have the writer and the reader. The writer has no control over the
things that the reader brings to the table.

Absolute control, no. But obviously there is a strong influence, and an awareness of connotations can help anticipate reactions and to avoid unfortunate ones.

As an aside, I would also assert that we writers should be active
readers, and that we are responsible for questioning our reactions
before assuming that the writer was wrong. I don't expect that *most*
readers will do this, of course.
Given the frequent misunderstandings on this list, I feel confident in saying that being a writer doesn't make a person a better reader. Ever seen people zooming through a parking lot endangering pedestrians, only to walk down the middle of the road as soon as they're pedestrians? Same thing with writers becoming readers. When the role changes, so does the behavior.

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

"And if you think the pen is mightier than the gun,
I tell you, friend, that you're dreaming
'Cuz the countdown has begun;
We're having fun
Down on Airstrip One."
- Attila the Stockbroker

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Reader responsibility: From: Lisa Wright

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