Re: Style Manuals

Subject: Re: Style Manuals
From: Lynette Petendree <Lynette_Petendree -at- INSTINET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 12:49:37 -0500

>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.

I believe you mean "linearly," not "lineally," or has Generation X banished
spell checkers? Everyone who has ever been in high school and has been part of
the up-and-coming generation has gone through the self-proclaimed "future
changers of the world." The fact is that none of us (my generation included)
have done much. Sure we've advanced the computer industry and there's tons of
software and games and flat-panel displays. In the grand scheme of things
though, this really doesn't mean much. And, the fact is that we should be more
concerned whether or not these high schooler or jr. highschoolers are thinking
at all, linearly or not, considering that most of them are far below the average
of any other country in the world.

In my current position I have been tasked with writing only online help and I
don't think that my grammar or language has changed for this, only the way it is
structured, so yes, I agree with "linear instructions," but I didn't think that
had anything to do with boring or interesting writing. Then again this debate
has gone on too long and I've lost track of what we're talking about.

>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.

As long as you admit they're obnoxious, I'm happy!! ;) But I'm not sure what
transition you're talking about.
I've got a brother in grade school and kids are still basically the same. There
are some who are into computers, granted, but most still want to play sports and
pass their tests and dress cool, etc. Not everyone who was into the rock and
roll "lifestyle," as you put it, lived and breathed in obnoxious, exuberance
circles and thought that rock and roll was the way the world was going and that
every other musician would see the error of their ways and convert.

>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

No unfortunately, I haven't found any specific marks. Just poor communication
skills, bad diets, pale coloring of the skin (unless you live in California and
go out and play frisbee at lunch). Oh yes, and they try to communicate points
without making too much sense to the average world and that's why technical
writers are brought in to make sense of it all.

>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.

Every "flavor" of writing requires the same, basic, good writing skills. I
never said there was one way to write, please do not misinterpret what I have

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

It was a little bitty joke Heidi. Please get off my back, I can't bear the
weight of your exuberance.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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