That's Entertainment!

Subject: That's Entertainment!
From: Tony Rocco <tony_rocco -at- NAVIS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 10:16:54 U

Forgive me for being a fuddy duddy, but I don't believe that good
documentation need be "entertaining." I know that the "XXX for Dummies" books
have made a fortune being entertaining, but they are addressed to a
non-technical audience that needs humor to maintain interest and allay
technophobic anxieties. This is a valid approach *for that type of audience*,
but for most computer-related audiences it would be inappropriate.

I think good technical writing should be *interesting* and have some sort of
stylistic appeal, visually and editorially. But I stop short of it being
"entertaining," with jokes, whiz-bang graphics, loads of funny-looking icons,
etc. These devices often interfere with clarity of expression and make it
harder for the reader to find needed information as quickly and easily as
possible.They also wear thin after the tenth time you have seen them.

If the rap against Information Mapping is that it produces bland,
uninteresting documentation, it is well-deserved. If the complaint is that it
results in documentation that is not entertaining, like DOS for Dummies, it
is not so merited.

- Tony G. Rocco

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