Dear Environmental Geologists, Engineers, and Technical Illustrators of 20 Years Ago:
Please remember that the real audience for your work – the mind-numbingly detailed technical reports over which you have slaved many hours – is not the board of petty bureaucrats who commissioned your investigation. The real audience is someone like me: A data-entry and verification cog in a giant lawsuit that will one day, far in the future, bring your paperwork out of cryogenic storage.
I mean, you were working on a project at a large industrial facility. Did you really expect your figures to snooze contentedly on a dusty shelf while all the potential contaminants at the site frolicked peacefully in a land of rainbows?
While you probably don’t need to plan for technical communication spanning multiple civilizations, your work is likely to remain relevant over 30-50 year urban planning timescales. It is also likely to become separated from its accompanying text, and quite possibly its fellow figures. It will be folded, spindled, mutilated, faxed, photocopied, and scanned at an inappropriately low resolution. Meanwhile, your field site will be built up, knocked down, jackhammered, and regraded. It would be nice if you could provide site location maps that will remain useful under those circumstances, instead of the following:
Love and snuggles,