atw: Re: Should we always give users what they ask for?

  • From: "Christine Kent" <c.bkent@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 14:30:26 +1100


1.     Some want us to pay special attention to the media preferences of our
readers. Give them what they want, in other words.


That Henry Ford Quote applies here.


2.     Many of the same folk suggest that younger readers prefer digital
media, and that soon the younger reader will become all readers.


I think this may be a false premise, which means the whole question breaks
down.  SOME younger readers may prefer SOME digital media for SOME purposes.
As a horrible percentage of "younger" people are functionally illiterate,
there is at least one group of younger people who are not being referenced
in this statement.  How many others are there, and how many like to soak in
a bath with a good book?


3.     Can we reconcile these two claims: if we give readers want they want
and they all want online, will there be problems.


I think this is verging on simplistic for all the reasons others  have
given.  Basic discipline; define your readers, define your environment,
define your desired outcomes, then review the possible media for that set of
circumstances.  You only determine media once you have defined all your
operating parameters.


4.     In the injury-and-death situations I mentioned, there may well be


OH&S requirements include graphical posters and the like in all dangerous
situations.  This is not negotiable.  Many factory workers are barely
literate, and many workers have English language difficulties.  After that,
it is an educational problem, not an educational media problem.  The first
question that has to be answered is how are you going to train.  Secondary
to that is what additional training and support do you require after the
initial training, then after that is what media will you use to deliver it.
There is no generic answer.


5.     In the call-centre example I gave, there may be business reasons to
prefer one medium over another (and not necessarily the one that readers


Back to Henry Ford.


6.     Thus we should not, perhaps, accept that reader preferences carry the
day: yes or no? That was the question I asked, and not too many
correspondents have actually answered it directly.


Back to Henry Ford.


This all being said, I have a creeping feeling that the way we are training
is archaic and outdated, but I am not entirely sure what to replace it with.
These days, I always use a "learning by doing" methodology, which means I
teach the actual task being completed, using a minimum of theory, and a
maximum of procedures that lead to completion of the defined project.  It
works well for "hard skills", but less well for "soft skills".  Again, no
generic answer.





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