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English: American entrepreneur, author and pub...

English: American entrepreneur, author and public speaker Seth Godin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a great point. And technology really helps solve the problem. My blog writing tool (WordPress) has plug ins that recommend links, tags, photos and related articles for me. It is improving my writing (I hope). What used to take a long time to do manually is now speeded up and I can focus on what I want to say.

Many sources, from textbooks to websites, take the position that if you don’t understand a concept or a nuance, it’s your loss. I think that’s an strategic failure on the part of the writer. (I’ll give scientists and other professional writers a pass.)Just recently (a decade or so) we opened two doors that change the way we communicate: we can link now, which means that any time you’re worried you’ve hit something too complex, you can easily link to more data and more explanation, and second, you can keep writing. Length (given appropriate organization) is no longer an issue.

At the same time, there’s an onus on the reader to look up words and references that are easily found in a search engine before giving up.

Ikea, then, should quit trying to jam nonsense instructions with no words on tiny sheets of paper and should instead post videos or detailed instructions in native languages online. Annual reports should get significantly longer (with better hyperlinked indexes), not shorter.

No one is going to read the whole thing, ever again. But we need to make it much easier to read the part of the thing that someone really cares about.

via Seth’s Blog: What do you do when they don’t understand?.