Query: Two dilemmas: "users" and "long books"

Subject: Query: Two dilemmas: "users" and "long books"
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 1995 13:44:29 LCL

I'm currently writing a book on information design, and encountering
two problems I need some help to resolve. Since the problems likely
face many techwhirlers, I thought it might be appropriate to post them
here.

1. I frequently refer to those who use the information we design in
our various roles as information designers. Where the context permits,
I say "the audience" (when discussing a collective target audience),
"the reader(s)" (for text that will be read rather than looked at) or
"the viewer(s)" (for visuals, including text treated as a graphic
image), but sometimes I end up resorting simply to "the user(s)". I
don't like that word, and the more obvious workarounds ("those who use
the information", "the readers, the viewers or both", etc.) are long
and equally unsatisfying. "Clients" doesn't work for me either,
despite the validity of an implied contract between author/designer
and audience.

2. I'm closing in on an estimated 1000 published pages (letter-sized)
as I approach the end of my first draft (i.e., after expansion to
include white space and illustrations). Ouch! I want to cover as many
topics as possible, so eliminating topics won't work. I'm working hard
to chop the copy as I write and revise (e.g., no passive voice,
simplified constructions, substituting single words for groups of
words, etc. etc.). Nonetheless, the text won't come down to a more
manageable size... which is both good (I'm achieving my goal of broad
coverage) and bad (trimming too much makes the coverage superficial).
Books that big are intimidating, hard to read or consult, and fall
apart when the spine breaks. I've considered publishing it as two
volumes, but that's an awkward solution for the publisher, the
librarian and the reader. Part of the book (about 1/4) will be a
discussion of specifics (e.g., design for online information), perhaps
for use as a workbook in a course on information design, so perhaps
this could form the second volume... I've had a few texts that worked
this way, and the approach worked for me as reader.

Thanks in advance for your help.

--Geoff Hart geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
#8^{)}
("Who shall edit the editors?")


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