Re: Style Manuals

Subject: Re: Style Manuals
From: Heidi Waterhouse <HWaterhouse -at- VIDEOUPDATE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 11:00:42 -0600

> Oh, garbage, so many of those companies come and go, why
> should I pay attention
> to 20-somethings who have too much acne and no social skills.
Ouch! You know, some of us twenty-somethings are out here in the
workforce, too -- acne or not. The reason you should pay attention to us is
because we are the up-and-coming generation of computer users and workers.
I don't have my books here at work, but there are substantive studies
indicating that people now in high school and jr. high don't even think
lineally anymore. Instead, they prefer hypertext interfaces that allow them
to seek out just the information they need. As a technical writer, I think
that's a pretty important thing to be aware of. After all, if my linear
instructions are too boring for them to read, then I've failed in my goal to
convey my message.

> Silicon Valley,
> like the rest of California is another country...too much
> sunshine and natural
> disasters or something. I've read Wired and can usually
> never get through the
> "technical industry is holier than thou" attitude stuff.
> You'd think some of
> these techies invented the cure for cancer!!
I've never seen an article like that. What I have seen is a
celebration of a lifestyle preferred by a group. Before you get too bent
out of shape by the exuberance, consider that the rock 'n roll lifestyle was
considered much the same way. The world changes, and the instigators of
change always look at least a little obnoxious during the transition.

> BTW, Strunk and White, if you've ever seen it, is like a
> writer's bible. When I
> say 1919, I meant it for a point of reference assuming that
> you knew it has been
> updated about a gazzillion times and has been reprinted every
> couple of years or
> so. It is still widely used, and you will see it on the desk
> of many good
> writers (not good techies who think that because they were
> once programmers than
> can now do technical writing better than us writers...and I
Is it possible to tell these interloping techies by any identifying
marks? After all, it is impossible for someone to think coherently in both
C and English, and we wouldn't want to mix with people who try. /sarcasm off

> still say that you
> need to be a good writer before you're a "technical" writer
> because a good
> writer can write about anything).
I agree. Being a writer is very important. But there are different
flavors of writing, and technical writing is one of them. I think my
chances of winning a short-story contest are slim, but I have gotten calls
from grateful users of documentation, and that's just as rewarding. So
maybe there is no one true way to write.

> Keep up the good fight! ;-)
Against what?

Heidi Waterhouse
Technical Communicator
Video Update
hwaterhouse -at- videoupdate -dot- com
Opinions expressed have nothing whatsoever to do with Video Update.

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