Re: Anthropomorphic Phrases

Subject: Re: Anthropomorphic Phrases
From: Kathy Marshall <kmarshall -at- MODACAD -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 11:00:58 -0700

Matthew,
I see your point. I have a great book here called Technical Editing: The
Practical Guide for Editors and Writers bu Judith Tarutz. ISBN
#0-201-56356-8.

She claims that people don't want computers to think, understand, have
feelings, or be their friends. By attributing human qualities to
computers, we're somehow taking control away from the user. Also
anthromorphisms imply that things happen by magic with no logical
explanation.

I would be interested to see if most users really feel this way
though...It probaby varies, depending on the type of user (novice vs.
expert) and which industry you're writing for.

-Kathy

ModaCAD, Inc.
http://www.modacad.com

> ----------
> From: Matthew J Long[SMTP:mjl100z -at- MAIL -dot- ODU -dot- EDU]
> Reply To: Matthew J Long
> Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 1997 7:47 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Anthropomorphic Phrases
>
> This one's not in the archives:
>
> I learaned and have always heard that using anthropomorphic phrases in
> technical writing is a taboo and, in general, I avoid it, but I was
> wondering what it is that makes it so bad? Any books that cover this?
> Thoughts? Opinions?
>
> Recently I was explaining how to use wild card characters when
> conducting
> a search in a database when I wrote "When you enter a word or phrase
> in
> one of the fields, the system will search for exact matches." What is
> wrong with this phrase. It sort of gives the system a personality
> then,
> but what makes that a bad thing? Maybe the users (who are primarily
> attorneys and paralegals) would be more productive if they felt that
> the
> computer was more... well .... human like (anthropomorphic).
>
> I am not looking for suggestions as to how to rephrase the statement
> above--I can do that. I am just curious as to why I should want to.
> Why
> should I avoid anthropomorphic phrases? Is it just for the sake of
> doing
> so, or is there true merit to this practice?
>
> TIA for you thoughts?
>
> ////////////////////////////**************************************
> Matthew J. Long
> Technical Writer
> mjl100z -at- mail -dot- odu -dot- edu
> matt -dot- long -at- justice -dot- usdoj -dot- gov
>
> -When you can't be eloquent, choose brevity!
> ********************************************************////////////
>
> ~~
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