I have been reading many manuals and instruction books lately. What I noted most is how they help a common user. All of this reading and other recent experiences has made me think about the core competency of writing and writing well and how does it help users across different cultures? How manuals make a business case and add value. One conclusion is that technical manual writers should know more about world geography and different cultures.
Imagine an iPhone (or any other product) made in a factory in the backwaters of China and its manual written by a technical writer in America and being used in a village in Nepal. Ok, the users might understand that dense prose and recognize some of the button locations that is explained in the prose along with other specifications, but what about users’ unique needs; purpose for which they buy the product in the first place? The writer who is not familiar with Nepalese culture may not be aware of them and hence will not be able to cover those while writing the manual. That is what will render that manual useless.
One can see different manuals published in multi-languages. That is not enough. I suggest the manuals of the product that are targeted to be used worldwide must be written by team of writers who are well familiar with different cultures. Developers probably need teams including designers and illustrators to communicate with wide audiences.
Manuals have a very interesting relationship with the cultures in this age. What do you think?