Re: Creativity in Technical Communications

Subject: Re: Creativity in Technical Communications
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 14:35:00 -0600

You know, creativity tends to be a kind of subversive, sneaky impulse
that gets into what people do, especially when it happens in something
as grey as technical writing. An artist (which I am at night) can throw
creativity around in the open. Art is open to creativity, and has few
other concerns. A tech writer has to apply creativity in more subtle,
tightly bound ways. There is deep creativity in communicating precise
messages within the bounds of formal English and a restrictive style
guide to people who aren't paying attention, but we don't yell "hey, I'm
being creative" because it doesn't work that way. The brick has to be
well wrapped or they see it coming.

I don't think you are going to find any direct, obvious keywords to lead
you to creative tech writing. Even when I get blatantly creative and
write fun manuals on my own time, you won't find them by any obvious
keywords. (Hmmm... maybe I ought to post my section on the DWIM function
on my personal page...)

>Look at your example: "HOW TO KEEP YOUR VOLKSWAGEN ALIVE: A Manual
ofStep-by-step Procedures for the Complete Idiot"
The only keywords there that suggest anything other than a completely
boring manual are "idiot" and "Volkswagen". Otherwise,

I'm taking this message over to the bar for further discussion in a more
appropriate venue: techcomm -at- user -dot- itconsult -dot- co -dot- uk

>From: Rachael Schumacher[SMTP:SCHUMACR -at- BRIAR-CLIFF -dot- EDU]
>Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 1997 1:36 PM
>Subject: Creativity in Technical Communications
>Hello, my name is Rachael Schumacher. I am a student of writing at Briar
>College in Sioux City, IA.
>I am currently doing an independent writing project for my advisor Phil Hey.
>am creating a webography of information on the internet about technical
>I have a question. Throughout my time here at BCC, Mr. Hey has been great
>about showing us all the different types of tech writing that exist. One
>form are manuals. The manual HOW TO KEEP YOUR VOLKSWAGEN ALIVE: A Manual
>ofStep-by-step Procedures for the Complete Idiot. by John Muir, John Muir
>Publications, is an example of a more creative type of technical writing.
>There is also the entire line of Dummies books for various things like
>programs and other tasks. My question: Is there a place in technical
>for creativity, and if so what are the limitations? I have tried to do
>searches on engines for creative tech writing and popular tech writing and
>communications too and have come up with nothing. If you have any
>on key words for searches that I havent thought of (which Im sure there are
>many) I would like to here them.

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