Real Offense

Subject: Real Offense
From: Barbara Hubert <barbara_hubert -at- epicdata -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2000 13:27:28 -0800

my 2 bits,

Andrew says:
>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 find that I rely heavily on analysis and methods learned in
post-secondary, but real world writing forces those skills to
function in the background (kind of like metadata on a network). The
reality of high tech is that there are a a plethora of

reasons methods don't work (not just in writing, but in lots of other
areas too, such as product or network


tend to be linear
usually show activities as only occurring once (I revise my
docs recursively and constantly)
are often prescriptive
usually don't distinguish between size or complexity of doc
often mix various project elements that should be kept
separate, such as project management,
design, development (ie waterfall design is not an
implementation methodology)
don't distinguish between operation/functional and conceptual

All the above concerns aside, I would never consider banging out a
document until I had figured out:

who the audience is
how the doc will be used
what are the goals of the doc
the physical environment where the doc will be used
everything and more about the technology
write the damn doc (i realize this list is not parallel)

IMHO that's a method

From the responses to this original post, it seems that there are some
decisively divided camps on this issue.....
personally, I find myself torn between the two stances, which seem to
pit methodology against technology. I think both
are necessary, though I agree 100% with Andrew when he says:
>For example - I think ALL tech writers in the computer industry should
>forced at gunpoint to take a C++ and SQL class (or something similar).
>who know how programs are written and databases are used are 1000 times
>qualified to write about those things.

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

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