Re: The Real Offense

Subject: Re: The Real Offense
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 14:25:42 -0800 (PST)

<DowningLst -at- aol -dot- com> wrote in message:

> I agree that lots of writer are guilty of anguishing over theory,
> methodology, and technique, at the expense of getting their work done. I've
> even committed that offense a number of times. However, Andrew seemed to be
> accusing these folks of knowingly and deliberately aggrandizing themselves at

> the expense of whatever job needs to be done. I think it more likely that
> these folks went through some type of academic training program, and have yet

> to learn that the demands of a real-world job are different than those of the

> classroom In a classroom, you're supposed to examine theories, methods,
> etc., while in the real world, you're supposed to get the job done ASAP. The

> writers Andrew complains about may simply be laboring under a mistaken
> impression of what is the right thing to do.

I admit that I am a harsh critic of the theory-crap that a lot of writers do. I
also admit to over-generalizing many writers as deliberately trying to do this.

However, I feel this is a fundamental flaw in the entire tech writing
profession. One that is dramatically hurting the profession in ways most people
do not ever address.

I also feel STC and many other institutions are helping to further the
"one-off" mentality. These organizations should focus on how to more
efficiently and effectively jam out docs that are accurate and useful. They
should focus on teaching technologies that will help writers understand the
complex designs, products, and services they must document.

For example - I think ALL tech writers in the computer industry should be
forced at gunpoint to take a C++ and SQL class (or something similar). Writers
who know how programs are written and databases are used are 1000 times more
qualified to write about those things.

Instead, STC sponsors inane seminars about theories and crap. The STC magazine
contains story after story describing new ways to AVOID writing. "Why write,
when you can worry about fonts, bullets, and other trivial nonsense."

What happens is these writers get out into a real-world production environment
where there are deadlines and profit margins to consider and they try to
implement this crap. Then when management says (in some form) "stop jerking
around and write the damn docs" the writer gets pissed and complains about how
they don't respect him/her.

Would you respect a roofer who could not build a solid, reliable roof? Would
you respect a plumber who could not install a toilet properly? Why then should
anybody respect a writer who cannot jam out an accurate, useful document?

It frustrates me because I take a real passion in learning about the stuff I
document. I could sit here for days and tell you about cool hacking stuff I
learned while writing for Network ICE. I feel I owe it to my readers to be as
close to an expert as I can be when I write a document. My readers aren't going
to care about the fonts if I tell them a really cool fact or trick that only an
expert would know.

Mostly, I find it appalling that some writers will go to extensive rhetorical
lengths to defend their ignorance as if they have a right to be paid and
admired for stupidity.

Anyway...back to work.

Andrew Plato



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