Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
As go newspapers, documentation follows
Authorativie, comprehensive, professionally-produced factual publications are struggling in almost every regard. There's a crisis in audience, funding, and relevancy.
In a recent interview for Time Out Chicago (July 12-18, 2012) long-time television news director Carol Fowler is quoted as saying "I don't know anyone under 30 who watches news on TV."
In Newsweek (July 18, 2012), Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown observes that the Internet is changing our brains. Diagnosises of ADHD have risen 65% in the U.S., while brain scan studies show abnormal "white matter," extra nerve cells built for speed and fleeting attention spans.
And do I really need to cite any examples of how newspapers are are going belly-up? Apparently even polished, flashy electronic newspapers like The Daily are struggling.
Although overlooked, traditional product documentation is also "old school." The big difference compared to TV news and newspapers is that nobody will mourn its loss except those of us in the industry. It is already happening; if you're willing to face the truth. As a friend of mine recently quipped, "I feel like a dinosaur looking for a tar pit."