Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 8 Feb 1994 to 9 Feb 1994

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 8 Feb 1994 to 9 Feb 1994
From: "Usability Expertise Center ph.603.881.2430" <raven -at- USABLE -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 1994 09:24:17 EST

The message contains 2 responses: One about Minimalist approach, and
one about the MLA

The Minimalist Approach was kinda sorta coined by John M. Carroll
while he was working at the IBM Watson research center in Yorktown
Heights, NY. Dr. Carroll came and gave a talk on "minimalist
documentation and user interface design" at the November meeting of our
local STC Chapter. Here's a quick overview of what he talked about:

"The distinctive skills that make people good porblem solvers
(analogical reasoning) also make them poor candidates for systematic
instruction. The minimatlist approach seekd to capitalize on precisely
the phenomena that undermine systematic instruction. The minimalist
*Allows users to get started immediately
*Relies on users to reason, to improvise cretively, and to take
advantage of what they already know
*Supports error recognition and recovery"

If you want a quick overview of the method, there are about 5 to 10
pages of desciption in: John. R. Brockmann's Writing Computer
Documentation: From paper to Online" (or somthing like that title by
Brockmann, second edition.)

Also, Carroll has written the following:
*The Nurnberg Funnel: Designing minimalist instruction for practical
computer skill (MIT Press, 1990)

*Designing Interaction: Psychology at the Human-Computer Interface
(cambridge University Press, 1991)


Now, the MLA:
(I forgot who posted the question): I do not know if/how the
MLA and the STC might be working together. Interesting idea. I have at
times been a member of both, but no longer belong to the MLA simply
because I've been employed in industry for the past 6 years. The MLA
was pretty good at the "academic job search thing." I interviewed a
few times, but was never wooed away from industry (mainly because the
places--areas of the country-- that might have had jobs for ME did not have
jobs for my husband, and it made no sense for both of us to leave perfectly
good jobs.)

Anyway, I'm curious that you seem disappointed with the MLA.
The MLA is very good at what it focuses on: finding academic jobs.
There's no other organization like it. Their MLA conference job
interviewing is very well organized and pre-planned, in a way that I
have not seen at the STC or the IEEE (not that those groups are BAD at
I say, join any of the following to help you find a
non-academic job, and let MLA keep doing what it is good at. Why
should they entr the nonadacemic-job-hunt area when all of the
following organizations are already there?
*IEEE Professional Communication Society
*American Medical Writers Association

Also, I could list at least 5 head hunters in the Boston area that you
can just call and Bingo! The job hunt is on for you. That's not the
case with academic jobs. So, the bottom line is, if you want a
nonacademic job, try investigating these alternatives.

Mary Beth Raven,Ph.D.
Digital Equipment Corporation
Nashua, NH
Raven -at- usable -dot- dec -dot- com

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