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Actual Readers Versus Implied Readers: Role Conflicts in Office 97

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This article uses reader role theory to explain the dramatic failure of Paper-clip, the interface to Office 97’s online help system. Called an Office Assistant, it is designed to shield users from the complexities of the software.

Problems with Paper-clip surfaced as soon as Office 97 was launched. This article explains the Paper-clip controversy in terms of reader role conflicts by showing why actual readers rejected Paper-clip’s role as implied writer and why they rebelled against the reader role Paper-clip implied for them.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2000

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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