Re: waking up to the world of Technical Writing

Subject: Re: waking up to the world of Technical Writing
From: "Mark Baker" <listsub -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 09:48:21 -0400

> Is it just me out on the bleeding edge or have a lot
> of people been asleep lo these 51 (going on 52) years?

Well, you can hardly expect the conference to be cutting edge when proposals
have to be submitted almost a year in advance. You have to stick to old
chestnuts because anything contemporary or cutting edge risks being
out-of-date by this time next year.

But the thing that really gets to me about this announcement is in the next

"You are invited to be part of this vision of technical communication as
central to every user experience."

This seems to me to miss the point entirely. Technical communication is, by
its very nature, peripheral to and even an interruption of the user
experience. This is the first thing that I used to stress to new writers:
unlike most other forms of writing, your purpose is not to grab and hold the
user's attention, it is to get them out of the book and back to their task
as quickly as possible. The less they have to read, the better. If technical
communication becomes central to the user's experience, then something has
gone terribly wrong.

The novelist knows he has done a good job when the reader finishes his book
with a sigh of contentment. The technical writer knows he has done a good
job when the workman finishes his project with a sigh of contentment.
Mark Baker
Analecta Communications
+1 613 614 5881


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waking up to the world of Technical Writing: From: T. Word Smith

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