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Subject:Re: Guess what: we suck! From:cupton -at- syclone -dot- net To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com Date:Fri, 17 Aug 2007 14:55:09 -0400 (EDT)
We need a new SIG for STC that addresses where tech writing can go if
we're not careful - Call it WOWOW - for Write or Wrong, Over the Wall.
> Based on what I've read, it's because there's a proliferation of $50
> books where a good general guide would do. Why is there often no good
> general guide? Users want more in-depth coverage, and they like big
> thick books which they feel protect them from ignorance like talismans.
> Even more importantly, however, there's often a lack of intelligent
> decisions made about the writing.
> For example, a recent trip involved shopping for a book to teach a
> relatively new web author Photoshop. The eventual choice was a Visual
> Quickstart guide, because it was all examples and then summaries of
> theory. Most books failed because they skimped on general introductions
> that would have explained different types of task-based paths, then
> gave cursory basic skills.
> Worse, at the point when you'd expect their readers would cross from
> "new user" to "got the hang of this," they slam them with detailed,
> wordy instructions of complicated procedures, written as if to a new
> user. It's like a non-cumulative guide, which means it repeats itself.
> This is coupled with extensive text-only parts that are often very
> useless for a graphical application.
> I think our field can do better on the whole. I hope we choose to. I
> understand the "TWs suck" blogger's arguments, and agree with her on
> much of it, but I don't blame TWing, I blame where we are now. There's
> a big difference.
> --- Laura Lemay <lemay -at- lauralemay -dot- com> wrote:
>> In computer book publishing these days a book is a runaway best
>> seller if it sells 10,000 copies. Most computer books sell in the
>> low thousands. The failures are subsidized by the successes. Book
>> publishers spread out the risk by publishing a lot of titles on a lot
>> of subjects. Even so it is a very very hard business and a lot of
>> publishers have failed or been absorbed in the last 6-8 years.
> technical writing | consulting | development
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