RE:Structure vs. Substance (long)

Subject: RE:Structure vs. Substance (long)
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 18:18:37 -0700 (PDT)


"Jason A. Czekalski" wrote in message...
>
>>> Andrew Plato wrote: Oh, cool. So all I have to know to be a lawyer is how
to use all
>>> those legal CD-ROMS. Hot damn! I never knew it was so easy. All I have to
do is ram
>>> a few processes into my head and I can pass the bar!

> Andrew, you're actually getting close. With both lawyers and doctors,
> their learning centers on THEORY! Their education is dominated with
> theory. Only later do they actually start to apply it to the known facts
> of a case.

Uhhh - theory is content, Jason. Last time I checked, "theory" was not
synonymous with process or procedure.

> I'll start with lawyers. No law student ever puts a great amount of time
> into learning individual laws. Why bother? Those laws will change before
> he or she graduates, often quite dramatically. No, they learn huge
> amounts of theory and procedure. What they are learning is how to apply
> broad legal theory to specific cases, and to do the research to back up
> that case.

And theory isn't content? You sure you read all my posts?

Actually - law school is a lot of case studies, concepts, ethics, and legal
procedure. But, what the hell does law school have to do with Joe the tech
writer who sticks his nose up and refuses to learn anything new because his
"internationally recognized" methodology does not require him to learn
anything? Nothing.

> I showed your post to a friend of mine who is a lawyer, and he got a
> good laugh. He said that you were pretty close to the truth (law on a
> cd-rom).

Oh - well, that's proof enough for me. Sheesh.

For all I know your friend is in jail for having sex with farm animals. This is
not a persuasive argument, Jason.

> So Andrew, the next time you're dealing with your lawyer or doctor, and
> you don't like the pace they are working at, just tell them to "ram it
> through". What's the worst that can happen? You might lose a lawsuit, or
> end up in jail, or die. Hell that's a small price to pay for getting the
> job done. So what if it wasn't done right the first time.

Sigh...
Medicine does not equal tech writing.
Law does not equal tech writing.
Your entire argument is therefore flawed.

Also - I am not advocating "ramming everything through." That applies to only
to projects where time and money are tight - then you ram.

>And before you jump in about this having nothing to do with techwriting!
> We provide documentation for people to use for software, heavy
> machinery, etc. If we provide information that is not useable, people
> get hurt or large amounts of money get lost.

Which is why each and every technical writer should be as close to an expert
about the subject matter he/she documents. I don't give a rat's hairy butt if
the document was produced using a time-honored, trademarked, and exquisitely
designed documentation process. If the information is incorrect then the whole
doc is useless.

If you put crap into a process, you get crap out.

> These issues are addressed by procedure. Learning about the audience.
> Finding out what conditions the documentation will be used under.
> Finding out what the most important issues are for the end user. In
> fact, it is when there are no procedures that the greatest problems
> arise in getting the job done. This why I like working for ISO and
> Mil-Spec companies, there are procedures. I know exactly what to expect
> and who is responsible, and where to get help if tha person fails to do
> their job.

And when you can whine, make excuses, and avoid any real work.

Jason, all I can say is - you go to the doctor who strokes his Doctoruminum
6.02 Human Physiology Methodology. I will go to the one who is a genius and
knows the human body (and all its weaknesses) backwards and forwards. I don't
want my doctor or my lawyer to just put me and my problems through some
process. I want to be treated like a human.

I put people and content first. Apparently you, along with Tim and Dan put
procedure first ahead of content and people. That's cool. But I think you're on
the wrong track.

Andrew Plato

90 days same as cash: http://members.home.com/aplato

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