Re: Are manuals and help read?

Subject: Re: Are manuals and help read?
From: Doug Fettig <DFettig -at- NYD -dot- LEGENT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 1994 11:28:00 PST

Karla McMaster writes:
>>I still feel
>>that quite a few people in industry look on manuals and help as things
>>_have_ to be done because everyone else does them, not because they have
>>intrinsic worth.

Amen to that!
Did you see any of those ads for the MS-DOS 6.X upgrades?
Microsoft shipped the disks along with a manual--and here's the
really interesting part--the manual was the selling point! But,
believe it or not, the manual wasn't even written by anyone from
Microsoft. The manual they were advertising, that came with the
software, was DOS for Dummies!

Now how does someone who doesn't work with the programmers
produce a better manual than the writers at Microsoft? Why do we
slavishly follow staid documentation standards and tech writing
principles when the books that people *buy* to help them are
light, free, and easy--replete with cartoons and puns?

Here's a clue I saved from a NY Times article, June 6, 1993. The
article says that every computer company claims that it is
customer focused, but they are actually
"hooked on technology, pursuing the latest
widgetry with abandon, convinced that customers will always
follow." As evidence, it says, the computer industry is the only big
business that refers to its customers as "users."

I leave you with a funny quote from this article. It's a quote from
Dan Gookin, author of DOS for Dummies, explaining why
computers (and computer manuals) are so hard to use:

"The biggest problem is that there's still a lot of dorks in

Present (cyberspace) company excepted...

--Doug Fettig
Information Developer
DFETTIG -at- NYD -dot- LEGENT -dot- COM

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