Re: A tech writer's koan

Subject: Re: A tech writer's koan
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "Mandy Wells" <mwells -at- valadeo -dot- com>, "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 16:01:21 -0500

First off, I'm bound to note that this isn't a koan at all. In Japanese Zen
Buddhism, a koan is a conundrum or story that has no logical point or
solution and that is used to disrupt the student's logical mind-flow. This
is merely a hypothetical business choice.

This choice encapsulates the question we argue about periodically on this
forum: to whom do we owe loyalty? We have several candidates: our egos; our
users; our employers; our customers; our bankbooks. Or, stated a bit
differently, what is the highest good? Is it an adherence to the very best
standards or best practices? Is it user advocacy? Or is it, as I suspect
most people would answer, to get the money?

I think a threshold question would be: Does lowering your perceived
standards actually hurt anybody? Is there a safety issue? Can somebody lose
life, limb, or property? Failing that, it's everybody's hierarchy of needs
for itself. The choice you make shows what your values are. That's not
really a bad thing; everybody needs some self-revelatoin. There is no answer
to your question. There are thousands of answers.

My answer would hinge largely on how much I needed the work and how muddy
the lowering would make me feel. Intuitive and subjective standards, but I'm

happy with them.


Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
317.562.9298
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info
http://www.simplywritten.com

----- Original Message -----
From: Mandy Wells <mwells -at- valadeo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 2:37 PM
Subject: A tech writer's koan


> Hello Whrlers
> Thanks to all of you who sent me URLs for quote sites--I deluged the
> developer and he was suitably impressed (although he probably now thinks I
> do nothing but surf for sites all day long).
>
> And my koan:
> So Grasshopper, you are writing something for a company--other than the
one
> that employs you--to be included with the other company's manual BUT the
> other company's manual isn't written very well (additional information
> masquerading as numbered steps and nasty stuff like that).
>






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