Re: Humor in documentation

Subject: Re: Humor in documentation
From: Steven Jong <SteveJong -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 17:11:01 -0400

At Digital I wrote the lead document for a large network
management project. The overview of the five OSI network
management categories was looking soporific, despite my best
efforts. But Steve Lane, a product manager and talented cartoonist,
had drawn some humorous pen-and-ink
cartoons illustrating the categories. For example, his
"performance management" showed users connected by tin cans and
strings. The network manager was timing the message coming to
one user, who had cobwebs on his arm, and was signalling his
assistant to bring in the roll of 56.8 Kb string (!).
Still cracks me up.

Everyone who saw the cartoons loved them, and I did, too. I
understood the issues surrounding cartoons, but I wanted to
use them anyway. Dare I? They were so popular engineers put
them into presentations, and customers loved them too. In the
end, the demonstrated popularity won over reviewers, and I was
able to include the whole set of five as full-page illustrations.

Interestingly, the only negative reaction I ever got was from our
own illustrator, who felt the drawings looked amateurish. Users
seemed to appreciate them; they illustrated the concepts so well
that I still remember the OSI network management categories
vividly; and the documentation set won a Computerworld best-in-
class award.

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Group Leader ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc, 281 Winter St., Waltham, MA 02154 USA
<jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com>, 617.672.4902 [voice], 617.890.2681 [FAX]

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