Re: Multimedia conversation

Subject: Re: Multimedia conversation
From: Bonni Graham <Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- RELAY -dot- PROTEON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1993 09:35:00 EST

Ann Hill writes:
"The conversation didn't "catch on" too much, so I'll try again with some
different questions."

I stayed out because I know nada about the practicalities of producing
multimedia stuff, but if it's philosophical...

She goes on to ask:
"Why should we as technical communicators use multimedia? What gains will
there / might there be? What losses? Who will really benefit and who will
Bill Horton (in latest issue of TC) says that, like it or not, we have to become
multimedia experts (or as close to that as possible).

Where should we place our development efforts related to the many forms of media
around us? Virtual reality / lab applications for users? Desktop
videoconferencing? Collaborative technologies?

What needs are most important to meet when designing, documenting, and using
these systems for new forms of communication? (yes, of course we are user
advocates -- let's dig deeper -- what specific user needs and why)"

I think we're going to find out that the multimedia revolution is going to be
nearly identical to the DTP revolution in that we won't really be able to
answer these question until some time after it becomes "common" (over x% of TWs
using the technology -- I don't know what a reasonalbe percentage would be).

Personally, I think we all need to know a lot more about learning and
unlearning before we can really answer that. (Of course, I said that about
page design in the DTP rev, too, and see how right I was...NOT).

I would challenge Bill, and say that we need to become human factors experts
first, so we can know what media (or combination thereof) to use most
effectively for our target audience. We need to speak up more and demand user
contact, documentation usability testing (or even alpha/beta testing of the
manual and ol help). I _don't_ think we should completely switch to any one
medium (some people will _always_ want paper manuals, some will _only_ look
online, some want animation and music on CD-ROM, etc.)

I don't think we can answer your questions on an "average" level yet. One
thing I've noticed is that technical communication has gotten a lot more
specific -- use this kind of manual for this user, another for this user, and
all of that specific to the type of product or market.

Anyone else have any other ideas?

Bonni Graham |
Technical Writer | copyright, n. The indisput-
Easel Corporation, ENFIN Technology Lab | able common-law privilege
Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com | held since time immemorial
President, San Diego STC | by owners of optical scanners
| to reproduce anything they
NOTE: apparently my email address needs | can get their hands on as
to be typed exactly as it appears here, | clip art.
punctuation and all, or the system gets |
upset. | --Ezra Shapiro

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