Re: Marketing email - VENT

Subject: Re: Marketing email - VENT
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 14:50:18 -0700

"Diane Evans" <diane_evans -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote in message
news:209996 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> This is the curse of being a technical writer -- you constantly want to
> things around you. It used to bug me to have to wait for a bus next to a
> deli that sold "sandwitches." And just yesterday, a very well-read and
> reputable e-magazine I read started it's lead article with a sentence
> including the phrase: "... the site of the principle ferry...". I wonder
> what kind of ferry that is? The one that carries basic truths and laws
> one area to another?
Oh, can I relate to that. But for me, it's not only it the writing I
see--and I see a lot. Many of the people I've worked with over the years,
including some mamangers, have encouraged me to shift more into usability, a
apssion I picked up ever since I read Donald A. Norman's "The Design of
Everyday Things" for one of my degree classes. The same way I catch problems
is writing (such as a previous poster on this topic's use of "over" when
"more than" was correct), I see usability problems in my encounters with
everyday things. Plus, I don't think that this is a discipline separate from
technical communication. I beleive, from what I've learned over the years,
that everything communicates, and whether that communication is clear or not
is most certainly within the boundaries of our field.

I bought the perfect camera awhile back to carry wiht me and document these
things, to eventually go o nmy web site. For example, a couple of months ago
(on a day when I didn't have said camera) I went to a local movie theater. I
love movies where I can get a big bag of popcorn, a big soda (preferably
Cherry Coke), and kick back and watch and munch. This particular theater
adds the butter (OK, buttery flavoring) when they serve (so I can get extra
in the middle) and has a separate island for condiments, including salt
packets. it's a dark area, so I just reached in the saly packet bin--and
felt glop suddenly covering my fingers. I pulled my hand out to fing my
fingers slathered in mustard. Turns out the designers placed the salt packet
bin right underneath the output of the mustard pump. <Sigh>

I notice signs that say the wrong thing, road designs that endanger,
doorknobs and fixtures that are inscrutable, and more. For good or for bad,
when I'm with someone and I notice such things, I say something, pointing
out what I see (and often a suggestion of better design). I say "for bad"
because some years back, when I visited my ex in Hong Kong, I did just that
at times, and he turned on me at one point complaining that I was just
attacking Chinese designers, architects, etc. I had a hard time explaining
that, for me, it had nothing to do with culture, that I observed such things

OTOH, I absolutely *love* finding things that are well designed. I have
become effusive upon encountering such things.

Chuck Martin

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