I think it can be fairly safe to say that technical communication as far as instruction manuals and other forms of directions are concerned are largely victims of mass production. On a personal front, I cannot remember the last time I read an instruction manual for anything; in fact the closest thing I can recollect is when I was trying to help assemble a piece of IKEA furniture and even then it was mostly just to double check things. I do not think there is any real way to make technical communication more effective in the sense that more people will pick up an instruction manual and use it for what it is for and the root of that lies, in part, with culture. In the West, many of the things we use that are complicated enough to require some sort of instruction like a car or a computer are so ubiquitous across the board the manuals are mostly redundant. Every one recognizes a power button symbol, all keyboards have the same letters in the same positions, all Macs or Windows come pre-installed with certain programs that are, for the most part, updates of the previous computer’s and are rarely that wildly different.
The goal of technical communication is ultimately to make processes easier and information more permeable and it has been accomplished by replacing the large blocks of texts and accompanying commentary with pictographs that gain acceptance as “universal” symbols. Text can still be very important under certain circumstances but far less has proved to be more. There is a cultural perception in America especially that emphasizes new things coming on the market should be better, faster and above all EASIER to use than what was previous. Furniture is pre-assembled or very nearly, something like 38% of toddlers and babies under the age of two are able to use Ipads and tablets, proving you do not need to be able to read to figure out technology. As we saw in one of the module presentations info-graphs are gaining increasing importance in conveying information and unlike, for example brochures, they are not given to the exclusive category of advertisment and brevity for the sake of enticement.
Cars are another example and are much the same case. Because every vehicle has certain standard feature placement (such as radio, which side the turn signal is on vs. the windshield wipers etc.) there is not an urgent enough need for the most part to read the owners manual every time one gets a new car, the basic aspects of being able to drive are what most people care about most of the time. I feel like the perception of men never reading directions is just as it is: a stereo-type; it is in fact common to both genders to ignore guides when they are confident in what they are using or have seen done before because complication makes it less appealing to buy and use.