Re: Merging marketing pubs with tech pubs

Subject: Re: Merging marketing pubs with tech pubs
From: Scott Holstad <sholstad -at- CORP -dot- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 11:40:06 -0700

At 01:14 PM 9/1/98 -0500, Miles Kimball wrote:
>Thanks for your response. While you may have a position that doesn't
>require you to persuade anyone of the relevance of your work, lots of
>technical writing -- I would say nearly all -- does involve that issue.
>And I imagine that even when you're writing your "hardcore" documents, you
>run across things you really try to convince your readers of -- for
>example, how or how not to perform a specific process, or what things
>readers need to do or not do. Do you use bold to tell people something is
>more important than other parts of the text? Then like it or not, you're
>doing some persuading -- persuading people to look and pay attention.

Okay, I shall grant you that, per your description.

>Your other response, wink notwithstanding, implies that you do think your
>readers are stupid and that they're entirely responsible if they can't read
>your documents successfully -- an awkward attitude, to say the least.

And, please understand, the "wink" was definitely intended. Just trying to
have a bit of fun here. I'm in a division where, often, the stereotypical
views are held and shared, and where Marketing divisions are entities to be
feared and loathed. (Again, wink, wink -- I'm obviously exaggerating in
choosing my adjectives here.) I sometimes like to propagate them, just for
the sake of entering or starting the fray.... :-)

>Actually, rather than "feeling sorry" for myself and other technical
>writers who pay attention to persuasion and other marketing issues, I find
>I like the challenge and the rewards of human-centered document design and
>composition. Paying attention to persuasion -- and other reader needs -- is
>one of the most demanding and rewarding parts of technical writing.

Certainly, I believe in knowing your audience and writing to your audience;
I would never argue otherwise. As a former English professor, I'm
intimately familiar with many of the basic tenets of composition pedagogy,
and am familiar with Linda Flower, Peter Elbow, David Barthalamae (sp),
their theories, etc. I understand there's a need to "pay attention to
persuasion and other marketing issues" and I understand that it's a very,
very important element of technical writing. Again, just having a bit of
fun, arguing the anti-Marketing angle here.

Perhaps we should move on though, because I've engaged in this discussion
for no true, valid reason, other than for the sake of discussion. I'm not
attempting to convince anyone that Marketing is "evil" or we should not be
reader-centered or focused. I've just enjoyed maintaining this thread....



Scott Holstad
Senior Documentation Specialist
Engineering Division, EarthLink Network
sholstad -at- earthlink -dot- net
Personal URL:

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