Sam Clemens is dead

Subject: Sam Clemens is dead
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 1994 00:10:45 -0700

While Sam Clemens was able to laugh at those who wrote his premature
obituary, he is nonetheless dead. A while back I announced the death of the
paper software manual. A number of you, like Clemens, quite rightly pointed
out that I had exaggerated, an insight that wasn't exactly a revelation to
me. The fact is, though, that I don't think anyone refuted the key points I
made, so I'm going to make them again.

I cited three reasons for the demise of the paper software manual (see below).

A number of you offered anecdotal refutation of the first point. While I'm
sure we understand the statement differently, I'll accept those refutations.

Now what about the other two points. And if the paper software manual isn't
actually dead now, when will it be?

>1. Nobody has ever learned FrameMaker4 or Word6 or Photoshop3 or any other
major package by reading the paper documentation supplied with it.

>2. The size and complexity of software packages are increasing explosively,
with no end in sight. The technology of paper manuals can't keep up. The
semiconductor and disk memories that support software advances will provide
a medium for increasingly complex user guidance and training.

>3. The technologies that make on-line multimedia user assistance possible are
planting seeds in users' minds. Paper manuals will continue to appeal to
users' nostalgia but won't satisfy their expectations.

Richard Mateosian Technical Writer in Berkeley CA srm -at- c2 -dot- org

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