Subject: EPHALANTS...
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 17:25:00 -0600

The decisions to use or not to use illustrations (regardless of the
skills of the writer) depends on the writers DESIRE to use them.

you can bet it was produced by a writer without an illustration
"mind-set", working with a small budget.

I only have one problem with these statements. They both assume the writer
is in complete control of the budget for the project. I don't know about the
rest of you, but I have *no* control. I *do* have input, but my advice/
requests are not always granted.

And that's the rub. If I ask for enough money to pay for a hundred
illustrations, but I'm only given enough for a dozen, I have a limited
number of choices. I can quit, I can shrug my shoudlers and figure out which
should make up the dozen, or perhaps play some games with the funds and
cover as many as fifteen or twenty.

Option one results in no gain for illustrator and certain loss for writer.
Option two gets minor gain for illustrator and minor gain for writer (writer
seen as "team player" can perhaps gain political points for next budget
battle). Option three gets bigger gain for illustrator and chance for big
loss for writer (if the powers that be object too strenuously to the games).
(If you ask it of me, personally, I'll waver between 2 and 3, depending upon
how good the day's been, how my relations with the specified powers are at
the moment, and how big a difference the extra illustrations will make. It's
a simple risk analysis exercise.)

All I'm asking is to keep an open mind. Consider for a moment that if
the trend continues, we as technical communicators will have allowed
external forces to creap in and dictate the content of our documents.

I'm trying to remember the last project that *didn't* have those external
forces you're decrying "dictate the content" in the manner you mean. You
know, I can't remember a single one. Cost has *always* been a factor, and
budgets are never Big Enough. At least around here.

The combination of quality writing, editing, document design,
illustration and reproduction is the key to successful technical
documentation. Is this not our common goal?

Yes, but meeting budgetary goals is *also* a goal. The tricky part is
optimizing the docs within the stated limitations. A manual with few
illustrations could just as easily be produced by a graphically-oriented
writer with no budget for them (or with orders not to use them).

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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