RE: Clarification (was Real Offense) --now just really of...

Subject: RE: Clarification (was Real Offense) --now just really of...
From: kimber_miller -at- acs-inc -dot- com
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 15:18:20 -0600

Subject: RE: Clarification (was Real Offense) --now just really offensive

-----Original Message-----
From: "Michelle Wolfe" <WOLFEM -at- bcbsil -dot- com>
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2000 9:42 AM
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Clarification (was Real Offense)

IMHO I guess what it boils down to is that some of us are better prepared to
write to the highly technical audiences than others. It is what makes us stand
out in the technical writing field and keeps our customers coming back to us.

[Kimber remarked:] This part of the message jerked my chain. I interpret this
as the kind of professionals chest-beating about "my education is more 'dense'
than yours, so I'm stronger, better, faster.. [thank you, Kent Christensen (see
original thread)]" that we vehemently protest from our SMEs. Balderdash.

Balderdash from the SME and balderdash from the techwriter who makes the same
kind of pronouncements. "Technicality" is relative to the audience. People who
are trained to teach Kindergarten and first grade submit to studying incredibly
complex learning theories about how to best present the simplest kind of
knowledge, and they spend FAR more hours beyond the classroom than I *ever* did
teaching in high school or college. Yet, what I was *teaching* was arguably more
complex, therefore, more 'technical.' But what I had to know about my audience
was arguably simpler.

My husband is a marketer. Knows nothing about "technology" and writes for the
general, high-dollar investor. Yet his stuff is so bloody financially technical
that it makes my brain stall. He must know his audience, what makes them
optimistic or pessimistic, the laws, and marketing techniques, and apply them
all--incredibly technical, yet he's not (he says) a "technical writer."

"Highly technical audiences"? Get off the high horse. What audience is not
highly technical? The folks with a third grade reading level who have to have
pictures to tell them how to operate a $5 million dollar factory machine have
requirements that call for a HIGH degree of technical knowledge on how best to
present that information. Knowledge of their needs, knowledge of the available
communication options, and knowledge of the technology being presented.

Engineers have to know ALL the complicated stuff about a subject. Fine. Now,
balance that--select what of that complicated stuff the customer service rep
needs to know to answer questions as they fill orders or take support calls. Too
much is as bad as not enough.

Try to teach someone to read. You've been doing it for so long it's like
breathing--simple and instinctive. But tell that to the adult who never learned
it. It's the simplest of knowledge-skills with the greatest technical
requirements of all.

Boils down to being good at producing something that aids people's efficiency in
performing the task at hand. Period.

There are way too many niche markets in this profession for anyone who
specializes in any one of them to brag about standing out to the others. Get
some perspective.

This concludes the invective.


"...indefinite visions of ambition are weak against the ease of
doing what is habitual or beguilingly agreeable."
--George Eliot
Kimber Miller
kimber_miller -at- acs-inc -dot- com
Affiliated Computer Services
Dallas, Texas


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