Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.

Subject: Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.
From: John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2009 17:03:24 -0500

Back in the day, we not only had to define, but explain how to do
certain new terms and actions like Click, Double-click, Right-click,
Drag, Drop, and Mouse-over. The same thing happened 75 years ago when
the phone company went away from operators handling every call to
customers being able to dial their own (using, gasp, a rotary dial) and
they had to introduce new terms and teach people what a dial tone was,
what a busy signal was, and what a ring tone was.

Are these jargon? At one time they were. Now they are common parlance.

We are still in the early days of computing yet, and new technology
appears almost daily. Some of it is more widespread than others. I would
venture to say that some of Mr. Pogue's (let's follow the NYT Style
Guide here) complaints are valid, others (dialog) are borderline. Any
new technology is going to either require new terms or re-use existing
terms often in a way that is equally confusing. We need to adapt. We
need to go through a learning process where outliers have some trouble
with new words and features.

So how do we handle this?

Rule one: Know your audience. We as technical authors can usually assume
a higher standard of expertise in our readers than Mr. Pogue can in his
readership. He writes for a general public audience. many of his
readers, but not all, will know what dialog means. In the audiences I
write for, they all know. If they didn't. I'd consider some sort of
online glossary of terms where they could find out what I mean.

It's that, or this scenario:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it
means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many
different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
/Through the Looking Glass./

My 2¢,

John Garison

Stuart Burnfield said the following on 2/2/2009 4:11 AM:
> I don't really see that. I'm talking about the case where a
> company has decided to invent or adapt a small set of terms,
> presumably for marketing reasons. If they have a bunch of
> products called SnogWrite, SnogDraw and SnogHelp, reams
> of brochures about how they're all SnogTastic!(TM), and
> posters on every bus stop in the country saying "Snog Me!",
> do you go along with snoglets or do you argue that applets
> is the industry-standard term?

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.: From: Stuart Burnfield

Previous by Author: Re: EE terms
Next by Author: Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.
Previous by Thread: Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.
Next by Thread: Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads