Re: Writing to your audience

Subject: Re: Writing to your audience
From: Phil <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
To: Dan Goldstein <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2011 22:01:05 +0700

Great story, both from Peter and Dan's response. Reminds me of Tufte's re-telling of the Space Shuttle disaster and how all the facts were known by the engineers, but nobody at NASA understood what they meant.


On 28 Feb 2011, at 21:42, Dan Goldstein wrote:

> I passed this on to a science educator I know. Her response was, "Why
> blame Sachse for his failure to communicate? Why not blame the other
> chemists for their failure to understand?"
>
> I explained to her that, from my point of view as a tech writer, it's
> never the audience's fault if they fail to understand me.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Neilson
> Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 1:15 PM
> To: TECHWR-L
> Subject: Writing to your audience
>
> I happened to be looking up cyclohexane and came upon this short piece:
>
> http://www.chem.yale.edu/~chem125/125/history/Baeyer/Sachse.html
>
> It tells of Hermann Sachse's discovery in 1890 of the correct
> conformational structure of cyclohexane, and of his failure to
> communicate it to other organic chemists. He even made 3-D models, but
> his work was rejected precisely because it required the reader to cut
> out and fold a paper model. "It is not possible," wrote a reviewer, "to
> write an abstract of this paper, especially since the author's
> explanations are hardly understandable without models."
>
> Sachse produced various explanations of the structure, using very hairy
> trigonometry and geometry, that no chemist bothered reading. He died
> three years later. The structure was not validated until 1918, and not
> fully recognized until 1950.
>
> The article concludes with:
>
> "Know your audience, and express yourself in terms they can understand."
>
>
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Writing to your audience: From: Dan Goldstein

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