Re: Rhetoric And Technical Writing?

Subject: Re: Rhetoric And Technical Writing?
From: "David Loveless" <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 14:31:56 -0700

I replied to this post off-list, but to share with all of you what I
told mlist...

I asked if I could post a portion of the manual or a link to the
manual. Management said no. Sorry. Hopefully in the next few months
that will change, but for now I cannot.

And I would like to make one thing clear... I never said that the
manual was the absolute end-all of technical documentation. I would
never be so foolish as to claim something that is entirely
unsupportable. However, I *did* say that my reviewers *chose* to read
above and beyond what they had to read because it was open,
refreshing, inviting, and pleasant. I mentioned that as an opener to
*my* belief that the field of technical writing in general needs to
change the style and design of our documents to become more user
friendly and as an attempt to tie that in to the current topic of
rhetoric. It was never meant to set me or the manual up on a pedestal
to be admired by all. Sorry if that misled you to believe that I was
claiming this manual to be more than it is.

If circumstances change, and I get a green light to post a link to the
manual (or even a few pages), I will gladly do so. I think that
sharing styles and designs that have worked for us is a wonderful way
of improving the field.


On 3/22/06, mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com <mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:
> David Loveless talked about his radically different technical manual:
> [...]
> > I guess what I'm trying to say about boring is this: the people who
> > have reviewed this manual READ the manual. They didn't just go look
> > for information, nor did they read it because they had to. They READ
> > the manual because they wanted to, and they enjoyed it. Why shouldn't
> > our documentation be written in such a way that inspires reading?
> Did I miss a post?
> Where's the link?
> I really want to see this manual of which you speak.
> In fact, I'm surprised that all the other respondents let
> this post and your previous one slide past without demanding
> to see this paragon of engaging technical writing that you
> have produced.
> I guess it depends whether it's primarily task-oriented or
> instructional. Isaac Asimov, in his non-fiction, used to
> do a decent job of making tech-ish subjects accessible and
> engaging, though I don't recall him ever really telling the
> reader how to make or use... anything.
> I'll be comparing your manual to a manual written for a
> flow-charting program that I used years ago (was it
> EasyFlow? ...can't be sure now... memory is spotty).
> It was written in a humorous and folksy vein - not sure
> if there was an actual techwriter involved, but at least
> one of the programmers had a big hand in it (former skydiving
> buddy and instructor who also had a humerous, folksy and
> effective approach to teaching).
> Anyway, let's have a look please. I promise not to steal it.
> Kevin (reading and writing boring documentation in Ottawa)
> The information contained in this electronic mail transmission may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected from disclosure. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to this message and deleting it from your computer without copying or disclosing it.

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RE: Rhetoric And Technical Writing?: From: mlist

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