Re: The future of tech comm: podcasting? -- YES!

Subject: Re: The future of tech comm: podcasting? -- YES!
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 12:50:31 -0400

Sarah Stegall wrote:

Steve: Your point is well taken. After the laughter dies down, and one
thinks soberly (what, on FRIDAY?) about this, I can see a case for it. It's
possible that non-native English speakers/readers might have a better time
of it *hearing* instructions read aloud in a clear, well modulated voice.
Right now all our customers are in north America, but we anticipate overseas
sales soon, including Asia. Possibly an audio version of the documentation
would work better for them. I don't know; does anyone have any experience


On the face of it, that's backwards. Someone who has trouble with English is much better off with a written document than with audio. Think how speakers of unfamiliar languages sound to you on the street. They talk so FAST!!! Well, not necessarily. One presumes they are speaking at a normal conversational pace. It's our unfamiliarity that makes it sound so fast. The same would be true for a non-native English speaker. With the written document, they can read slowly, check a dictionary or grammar, ask an acquaintance. With a tape that they can't control (control as in being able to slow it down, pause, rewind), they are going to be more frustrated, not less.

However, that is not to say that the idea is without value in another context. As we have all had drummed into our heads for years, different people have different learning styles. Among fluent English speakers there is certainly a subset who learn better aurally than by reading. That's the real market.

As for using such recordings in the context of customer support calls, um, no. That's not a context for a podcast. I can see a podcast for a tutorial (in fact my orientation to PageMaker, circa 1983 or so, was an audiotape; I wore headphones and followed along on the monitor, using sample files provided for the purpose). But customer support calls, if they use audio at all, really need to do it in a voice-response system, where the bot spews short chunks of information and then asks the customer to say whether he or she understood, then repeats or branches as necessary, etc. Most customers loathe this, of course; so don't get involved in it if you can avoid it.


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