RE: What is our real area of expertise?

Subject: RE: What is our real area of expertise?
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 15:10:12 -0500

The validity of the points referring to technical knowledge have been made,
in ways more succinct that I could. However, for many of us responsible for
documenting business-to-business applications, I think we're missing at
least as large an issue: business knowledge.

I have to become a business analyst, and SME, if you will, in order to
document the content of the applications I'm responsible for. It matters a
great deal less if I understand how to produce well-formed XML or bug-free
C++ code than it does whether I understand the functions my users are
expected to perform. It helps to know something of development technology
while designing and while assisting the debugging/QA efforts. But in the
final analysis, it isn't as likely to be user-friendly, content-accurate doc
(or product design) without the expertise (or ability to become an expert)
on the industry you're working in. And many, many of us don't have the
luxury of, or desire for, writing-only tasks.
Now if I was documenting API and SDK, then the technical and business
knowledge required are actually the same. It's a niche, like so many

To build on Al's mission--I design and develop information delivery systems
that are integrated with the product.

We perform balancing acts constantly ... between business, technical, and
audience needs. Where we need to become more effective is in demonstrating
that these balancing acts are crucial to the bottom line.


Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan -dot- Miller -at- prometric -dot- com [mailto:Alan -dot- Miller -at- prometric -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2000 2:36 PM
Cc: quinet -at- home -dot- com
Subject: Re: What is our real area of expertise?

I find this troubling in two respects. First, how does the technical writer
evaluate the information presented in the documents and by the SMEs? More
to the point, how does the technical writer know which documents and SMEs
to trust? What are the ultimate sources of the information? What
simplifications and generalizations were made along the way between the
original source and the source used by the tech writer? How does he/she/it
know? Ultimately we have to make decisions about the content and
presentation of technical material in our writings. If you don't know the
topic, you can't do it.

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