Re[2]: Are manuals and help read?

Subject: Re[2]: Are manuals and help read?
From: Karla McMaster <mcmaster%pcmail -dot- cti-pet -dot- com -at- CTI-PET -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 1994 16:27:40 EST

I liked Doug Fettig's response to my posting so much (see below) that I passed
it on to a friend not attached to the list (he's no longer a technical writer).
Doug wrote:

>>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?

My friend's suggestion was that the corporate structure imposed a wall between
the writer and the reader that an independent author doesn't have to deal with.
It's a lot easier to be a little irreverant when your stuff isn't going to be
reviewed by the people who wrote the software. They tend to take the topic a
little more seriously.

My friend also noted another fact regarding my statement:

>>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.

He reminded me that _nothing_ has "intrinsic worth." Worth is a concept
invented and used by humans. I am ashamed to be caught using a phrase without
thinking about it!

Karla McMaster, technical writer
CTI-PET Systems, Knoxville, TN
mcmaster -at- cti-pet -dot- com

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