RE: The New Communication (was Formality going Bye, Bye)

Subject: RE: The New Communication (was Formality going Bye, Bye)
From: "Phillip Gochenour" <pgochenour -at- loansoft -dot- com>
To: "Collin T" <tutivillus -at- gmail -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 09:18:41 -0800

>Technical writing and interactivity must begin working together. In
>addition, we must strive to meet the "Communication Norm" that is
>being born out of modern communication tools.

>What does this include?

>1. Less formality for the greater user base.

Unfortunately I missed out on this conversation earlier in the week
because I was swamped with a big technical problem, but this brought
back to mind an experience I had last year working on a contract with a
very, very large financial institution.

I was writing on-screen instructional text for commercial banking
applications, and kept having a conflict with one of the editors who was
reviewing my work. The conflict revolved around strict grammar, such as
using "then" as a conjunction ("enter information, and then press
Submit" v. "enter information, then press Submit.") My argument was one
that I have been using since I first started working with interactive
media: this is a new medium that requires new forms of communication
that are not direct copies of communication methods from print. The
strict grammarian wanted everything to be perfect English, where I felt
that an economy of text and instructional clarity were the paramount
concerns. Her's was a print-based paradigm, where I wanted to reflect a
style that was less formal and more geared to the "grammatical
understanding," if you will, of online users.

Colin's post brought this to mind again because I also believe that our
communication styles are evolving in relation to the media environment
in which we live. We can either evolve in relation to it, or we can be
staunch traditionalists. However, I think that the nature of the media,
and the kind of information we are being asked to produce, require us to
think in new ways about the methods and structures we use in that
production process.



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