U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Computer manuals [WAS: Pierre Duncan etc.]

Re: Computer manuals [WAS: Pierre Duncan etc.]

On Fri, 25 May 2007, Richard Knoppow wrote:

Its possible the manuals are on-line. I have a Sony VAIO which came with a small brochure packed in with the back-up discs. The manuals are on-line. I downloaded them, many pages of instructions and specifications. Ink on paper printing is expensive and computer makers assume you will do everything on-line anyway. Also, they mostly can't write.
If they can't write, "manuals" downloaded won't be any better than manuals printed on parchment and bound in gold.

The level of "can't write" today was I thought very well illustrated by a Janet Maslin review of Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen's "novel" "Pearl Harbor," reviewed in May 24 NY Times. Headlined "Assault on Hawaii. On grammar too."

Maslin samples the errors, solecisms, non-sequiturs, and other writerly infelicities of the book, published by St.Martin's Press. (Eg., "wretched" when they meant "retched," "incredulous" when they meant "incredible" and so on.) Surely these important people could have afforded a copy editor -- if they had an inkling they needed one. (Maybe they do now.) But how does a major publisher let a book at that 6th grade amateur level out of the house? Could we expect any better of, for god's sake, a computer manual?

Several years ago I wrote an essay for a short-lived photography magazine, into which the "editor" inserted several usage errors -- tho I got off easy. The other articles were full of howlers. (Fields "sewn" with barley, not "sown," is one that comes to mind.) When I mentioned this to said editor, I got a lecture about how photographers don't care about stuff like that. "Editor" also boasted of barely passing English in college, like an important credential.

Are computer editors supposed to be more literate, either on line or on paper, than photography editors? Or than editors at major publishers of fiction?