Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Computer validates RTFM strategy. Sort of.
Wired's Computer Beats PC Game After Reading Manual starts out as a feel-good story for tech writers. It reports that researchers found that an AI was better at playing a computer game after it "read" the game's manual. Isn't that great! It's exactly the sentiment that we want all life forms to embrace. But don't get too excited yet. They also discovered that the AI performed better after reading random sentences from the Wall Street Journal, too. Now the performance increase was slightly better with the manual, but still, it appears that reading anything at all, not just the manual, helped the player. Oh well.