Re: Sam Clemens is dead

Subject: Re: Sam Clemens is dead
From: John Russell <johnr -at- BRS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 1994 10:48:39 EDT


> 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.

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

*I* learned Word 6.0 by reading the hardcopy manual. Therefore, your
statement that "Nobody has ever learned..." is false.

This statement is general enough that it leaves, what I like to call, an
avenue of interpretation. You even admit this by saying "...I'm sure we
understand the statement differently,..." Any statement that is subject
to interpretation, and false interpretation, is not specific enough to
tell us anything. This is an obvious rhetorical ploy. Plato would call
you, in contempt, a sophist, someone who argues not to find the truth but
only to dupe the public. Only after you clue us in as to "your"
interpretation of the statement will we even be able to *begin* arguing
a point.

This is tactic that your other statements follow as well.

>> 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.

This point actually consists of three statements.

In the first, what you are actually saying is: *In general*, software
packages are increasingly complex. Nothing specific here. Can't disagree;
*can't agree*.

"The technology of papar manuals can't keep up." To my knowledge, "the
technology of paper manuals" is a pretty complex industry. Again, nothing
specific here. Maybe you could clue us in as to which aspect of "the
paper industry" can't keep up?

"The semiconductor and disk memories that support..." This statement could
very well be true. But what *specifically* is its relevance to the life
of hard copy manuals? I'm not going to *assume* that I know what you mean.
You're going to have to tell me, specifically, what is its relevance to
the demise of hard copy manuals?

>> 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.

Two statements.

"The technologies that make on-line multimedia..."

Fine opinion. I have some completely unsupported thoughts, too. Want to
hear them?

(And besides, it's more likely that the *use* of the technology is what
will make people think, not the technology itself. And, it's probably
*not* the users' who will be thinking about it, but the software and
online help developers.)

"Paper manuals will continue to appeal..."

Another fine opinion. But do you mean there isn't nostalgic, unsatisfying
documentation out there already???

Well, I might very well agree with you on many of these points. But until
you tell me, specifically, what those points are, I can neither agree nor
disagree. And I certainly can't argue with you. I'm surprised I indulged you
this much.


johnr -at- lurch -dot- brs -dot- com

|/ K. John Russell \|
| Dataware Technologies, Inc. |
| 5 Computer Drive South |
| Albany, New York 12205 |
|\ (518) 437-4025 /|

I hate Mondays.

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