Request for change & the core of techcom (long)

Subject: Request for change & the core of techcom (long)
From: LaVonna Funkhouser <lffunkhouser -at- HALNET -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 09:25:32 -0600

I said it two years or so ago on this list, and I'll say it again
today: Sometimes the small problems *are* the crisis of the moment.

When online vs on-line or email vs e-mail comes along and I have no
interest in it, I delete the message. When I'm helping edit a style
guide and I need some pointers to resources on the issue, I hope dearly
that someone will be kind enough to respond to the thread--perhaps
someone who just found a very useful solution in a similar situation.

I also agree totally with Bonni's note: It is *easier* to voice an opinion
that seems totally black-and-white to you (even if it isn't really). As
Beverly said, why can't the small issues and the big issues co-exist?
What seems oh-so-obvious to one person might be an answer from heaven for
a techwriter working as a one-person department.

Then there's The Big Picture of Technical Communication. What do we ALL
have in common?? I mean, whether we write for the energy, pharmaceutical,
nuclear testing, or computer industries, if you boiled our jobs down to the
basics, what core nugget do we share? WRITING. EDITING. Providing clear
information. Because these are core issues, they are important. Because
they are common issues, they can seem petty.

Some of the heavy, theoretical issues that have been suggested
by techwr-lers (HyTime and database integration in SGML documentation) will
bring nothing more than a "Huh?" from some of us who don't deal with that
kind of thing. (I'm not saying these topics shouldn't be brought up--I'm
trying to explain why these threads seem to die so young.)

We could decrease the volume of some of the recurring issues by having a FAQ
somewhere, but I bet we can probably find several cases of folks who were
new to tech writing who had a "light bulb" experience from mundane threads like
"whether to put a period inside or outsite the quotation marks." If someone
does bring up a thread like this, we can briefly give an answer, point them
to the FAQ, or reply to them directly instead of to the list.

In summary, (Whew! Let's see if she can do it!)
-- We don't always have a lot of time for e-mail, so we discuss the easy
-- What is obvious to Person A could be a godsend for Person B.
-- We don't all share the same industry knowledge, but when we boil our
jobs down, we DO all write & edit, so we feel we can comment on those
-- Theoretical issues will tend to be more specific, so a smaller percentage
of subscribers will want to contribute.
-- A FAQ might be useful for some of the more mundane, recurring issues.

Kind regards,

LaVonna F. Funkhouser, COREComm
lffunkhouser -at- halnet -dot- com (work)
You are invited to browse our web site:
My opinions do not officially represent anyone other than me.

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