Re: Process kills the

Subject: Re: Process kills the
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 13:35:12 -0700 (PDT)

"Jim Shaeffer" wrote...
> In my opinion, focusing on "the organization and structure" seems a natural
> state.
> Many technical communicators are not in a position to add to the information
> (the gold).
> They are in the position of obtaining knowledge (usually from SMEs) and then
> transforming (organizing) that knowledge into something that makes it easier
> for the end user to also obtain the same knowledge. The technical
> communicator is not in a position to make judgements about what is valuable
> and is not in a position to increase the fund of knowledge that is
> available.

I totally and wholly disagree. Technical writers are ABSOLUTELY in a position
to add to the information. Most choose not to and as such focus their energy on
organizing information given to them.

Then, when somebody says "this doc sucks" the tech writer, naturally, blames
the SME for not telling him/her everything he/she needed to know. Its the
perfect excuse - "I am responsible for the document if you like it, but if you
don't it is because the SME mislead me." Modern accountability at work.

I feel that tech writers should own 100% their work. That means they are 100%
responsible for the content. If something is incorrect - it is the writer's
problem. If a journalist reports the wrong facts we don't blame the drunk or
creep that told the journalist those incorrect facts - we blame the journalist
for not checking his facts. Sure from time to time, honest errors happen. But,
you wouldn't hire a reporter who didn't check his facts, why hire a tech writer
who doesn't.

Once upon a time, *technical* writer meant a writer who understood the
*technical* aspects of what he/she was writing about. But it seems most writers
now see themselves as nothing more than desktop publishers. Just today a
poster to this board was lamenting how she felt more like a secretary than a

> Knowledge, like mass in physics, is neither created nor destroyed by a
> technical communicator. It is all a matter of changes in form. Therefore,
> the natural focus is on the forms and the processes for transformation.

Very poetic Jim. Knowledge may not be created or destroyed, but information
is. Knowledge is in the mind, information is what comes out via communication.
As a writer, your job is to manipulate information using the knowledge you
possess. If you do not possess the requisite knowledge - how on earth can you
manipulate the information with any acumen?

If you are expected to write a document about SNMP traps, how can you
accurately and effectively describe this technology if you don't understand it?
How can a process help you write a document about this, if you lack the
intellectual ability to make judgments about the information being presented?
How do you know if the information is correct, if you don't understand the

Andrew Plato

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