Re: Photographs vs Line Illustrations (#539643)

Subject: Re: Photographs vs Line Illustrations (#539643)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 08:46:12 -0600

17-MAY-1996 07:39:26.94

>Another factor that can play into this decision is recognizability. An
>illustration is quite good at highlighting the act in question. But some
>people find photographs easier to deal with in recognizing just where they
>are looking, relative to the entire machine. Part of this, I'm sure, is
>simply psychological. We are accustomed to "photographs don't lie" and
>"people make mistakes." It's been my experience that people referring to the
>manuals seem more comfortable about locating parts of the machine when
>referring to a photograph than a drawing. This is not to say that all
>drawings contain mistakes. I'm hard pressed to think of more than one or two
>cases of that. Like I said, the reason is psychological.

Right, Arlen. This tendency can create some difficulties. People often assume
that photographic images are more real than words (and, in this case,
illustrations). In actuality, all three are mere representations of what's real
(WARNING--verging on Platonism here). With a photograph, you get the added
problem of context: you can cut out part of it and lose some information
(intentionally or not), or you can include too much. (This issue may create
more dilemmas with journalistic media than with technical writing, but it's an
issue nonetheless). With an illustration, the context is under more direct
control of the creator. Same goes with writing. Good illustrators (like a good
writer) will include the contextual elements necessary to convey the information
correctly to the audience they address. An illustration's successful transfer
of information also depends largely on the visual literacy of the viewer.

I'm happy to see this thread take a more reasonable tone.

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor

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