A challenge to Andrew

Subject: A challenge to Andrew
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 07:44:04 -0500

Tell you what, Andrew...I'm in the mood to issue a challenge. You write
interminably about how "a good writer", which I take to mean "Andrew Plato",
has mastery of these four things:

1) Technical Accuracy
2) Readability
3) Writer's technical expertise
4) Style (how can it make documents more interesting).

(I should let pass the urge to editorially remind you that a numbered list
should be used for ordinal objects, unless you meant that these were ordered
by importance. But I won't. I'm really in a challenging mood.)

I challenge you to test your assertions. You make them often, with great
vehemence and heat, but to date I have seen no actual data to buttress any
of them. You claim that single source almost always equals crap, which I
take to mean that the outcome is not highly usable. I'd be interested to see
if you can live up to the golden goal you've set for yourself...usability.
That's the test, right? You say so yourself, ad nauseum. Although perhaps
not in that precise word: Usability. That's what you pride yourself on,
though...interesting documents that ultimately benefit the user. You pound
the drum unceasingly that it's the writer, it's the writer, it's the writer,
it's the writer, and that nothing else matters, and that anything that
interferes with the True Professional is so much mud underfoot.

So let's test it. If you fancy yourself one of those marvelous writers, then
submit one of your sparkling contributions to our industry to a rigorous
usability test. A usability member of this list can volunteer to conduct the
actual tests. Let's see if your methods are as breathtakingly effective as
you claim. Then let's put the results on the list. Opinions are like
nostrils: everybody has at least two. But in my book, "In God we trust...all
others provide supporting data". You are vociferous in your denunciations of
anybody's working style but your own. Prove you're better. Prove it in the
only arena that counts. Put numbers on it.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
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