FW: Hard Hitting Computing

Subject: FW: Hard Hitting Computing
From: "Higgins, Lisa R." <eilrh -at- EXCHANGE -dot- WCC -dot- LUCENT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 17:43:00 -0500

At 01:35 PM 11/6/96 -0500, you wrote:
>>Maybe we need a little open market competition to remind us that real,
>>live users are not going to be cast into a maelstrom of controversy by
>>the appearance of the word "abort" on their screen or in their
>>documentation. They know what it means. And do we really think that
>>anyone will prefer "mouse devices" over "mice," "mouses," or "meece"?

>Are you sure you know how your readers are going to react to specific
terminology? Sounds >like you're projecting your own level of
sensitivity onto your readers.

You've missed my point. My point is that I am taking my cue from popular
how-to and instruction manuals. The ones people pay for. Those are a lot
more market-driven than the in-house stuff, usually. I don't have the
time, money, or permission to conduct some huge audience analysis for my
documentation. If it's going out to the open market, though, I can look
at books that have sold well within that demographic. Politically and
'gramatically' hypercorrect writing tends to come from within the
software industry. The stuff that is published and sold on the open
market is generally concise, clear, and somewhat casually written. I'm
kreskining that the in-house writer at large open-market vendors is
going to be virtually eliminated in the next 20 years as a result of
competition from third parties. I think it's in our better interests to
watch these trends carefully and to learn what we can from them.

And parenthetically,

('Abort' is a perfectly respectable general term meaning to stop
something. 'Mouse devices' is redundant and ambiguous. If I see 'mouse
devices,' I'm going to look for some kind of attachment to my mouse, or
perhaps look for Ed Wood's name in the credits for the manual
("Manipulate the mouse device attached to the computing machine,
Earthling!") If I see either 'mouses' or 'mice,' at least I know what it

>Be careful. It's sort of like saying that, "I don't understand why anyone
would want to vote for ><insert your favorite candidate's name>."

Yeah. I've never heard THAT before.

Lisa "Unsafe at any Speed" Higgins
eilrh -at- wcc -dot- lucent -dot- com

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