RE: SI Units (redirected to Interview Techniques)

Subject: RE: SI Units (redirected to Interview Techniques)
From: "Guy A. McDonald" <guy -at- nstci -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 13:00:21 -0500

> >answers. But not all Technical Writers will take the trouble
> (even using a
> >spell-checker is an alien experience). Instead, they will ask
> their questions
> >here, an embarrassment to many of us.
> >I just don't want you to think that all of the Technical Writers
> here are as
> >"innocent" as the ones you addressed in your message.
> >Cordially,
> >Charles Jay
> >Phoenix Arizona
> Nor are the rest of us as incompetent as you would like to think.
> Some of
> us just have different specialties and areas of interest. And some of us
> live in different parts of the world.
> Win

Not to mention a lone technical writer didn't cause the process breakdown at

Unlike Win, I received my start in naval nuclear power plant operations but
can relate to her comments. When I wrote a controlled work package, the
critical approval path was_not easy. Later in the private sector, an error
in my SOPs and maintenance docs could result in loss of limb or life.
However, the organizational buy-in was a quality check.

Broadbrush statements that paint technical writers as SMEs (who are
single-points of failure) are unprofessional and ignorant. I agree with Win
that some of us bring to the table different product/industry/technical
knowledge. Some of us are qualified SMEs in one industry, but still great
writers in others. Communicators who rely heavily on others for SME
resources will experience a much greater problem if the review is
inadequate. Comparatively speaking, if you are documenting a shrink-wrap
software game, then a mistake may cost you in the marketplace. If you are
writing a procedure or systems module that requires tremendous attention to
detail, contingency planning, and expert system knowledge, then the stakes
are much higher.

I would like to see this discussion move toward interview techniques. Some
of our greatest challenges for data capture involve human factors. Rather
than rehash the topic philosophically, would some of you please take a
moment and post a few stories?

Guy McDonald
guy -at- nstci -dot- com

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