Re: Using the Term "User"

Subject: Re: Using the Term "User"
From: "Charles P. Campbell" <cpc -at- PRISM -dot- NMT -dot- EDU>
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1993 10:57:20 MST

Karl Smart writes:
In the computer industry, the term "user" is a generally accepted term for
those who work with computers. I have had several folks (particularly
from Eastern big city areas) suggest that we should consider changing
the term--using terms such as "the audience," "the reader," "the
operator," "the customer," or a specific name if known (like banker,
lawyer, teacher, etc.)

The reasoning is that the term "user" has extremely strong connotations
with drug users, and that an alternative term would be more appropriate.
I'm interested in how others feel. If you don't like the term user, what
alternatives would you suggest.

Obviously, this has lots of ramifications. We have users' groups, a
user's guide, and so forth.
Users seems to be both useful and descriptive. It's short. Users are after
something. They approach documentation not as readers, for reading implies
a certain linearity and a willingness to follow the text where it goes. They
are not exactly operators, in the same sense that heavy cranes and PBX systems
have operators. They are centered on their own desires, like druggies.

I vote for users as the term of choice.

Chuck Campbell, Assoc. Prof. *
Technical Communication Program * In chaos
Humanities Department *
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology*
Socorro, NM 87801 *
Voice 505-835-5284 * there is possibility
email cpc -at- nmt -dot- edu *

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