Re: Correction Re: Audience Analysis article by Geoff Hart

Subject: Re: Correction Re: Audience Analysis article by Geoff Hart
From: "Wayne J. Douglass" <wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 11:44:54 -0800

At 11:12 AM 11/20/96 MST, Mike Markley wrote:
>My apologies to all of you, and especially to Geoff Hart. George Hayhoe, the
>editor of _Technical Communication_, just pointed out that I incorrectly
>identified the author of "The Five W's: An Old Tool for the New Task of
>Analysis," which appears in the May 1996 issue of _Technical Communication_
>(STC's quarterly journal). Geoff Hart wrote it (not Geoff Hoff).

As a journalism school graduate, I have been amused to see this old
journalistic formula rediscovered periodically. The Five W's will serve any
writer who has to uncover and organize information quickly to make a
deadline - the very definition of reporters and technical writers.

In grad school, I found that my lit crit guru, Kenneth Burke, had proposed a
similar scheme for analyzing literary works:

act - what
scene - where/when
agency - how
agent - who
purpose - why

In his book "Information Anxiety," Richard Saul Wurman lists his "five
hatracks" for organizing information, which incorporate at least some of the
Five W's:

time - when
location - where

Wurman's schema impressed me at first, but when I looked at it more closely
I realized that the first four organize information *access* - not too
surprising since Wurman specializes in reference materials like travel and
city guides. The great escape hatch for organizing information is category,
which can be unique to the writer or culturally influenced. Even the Five
W's are categories, which are probably the way the Western mind likes to see
the world.

--Wayne Douglass
Verity, Inc. Email: wayned -at- verity -dot- com
894 Ross Drive Telephone: 408-542-2139
Sunnyvale, CA 94089 Facsimile: 408-542-2040

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