RE: Pseudowriters (Should 'Pseudo-issue')

Subject: RE: Pseudowriters (Should 'Pseudo-issue')
From: Mike Stockman <stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 09:54:31 -0500

On 12/26/00 8:51 PM, Michael West (mike -dot- west -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com) wrote:

>[snip] Nor can a process
>that results in inaccurate and incomplete
>technical publications be described as
>"brilliant" except by someone engaging in
>rhetorical excess.
>Perhaps Mike Stockman is confusing the
>"beautiful" with that which is merely
>superficially nice-looking--a common mistake.
>Think of Keats: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty ...."

Did you really miss my point due to my "rhetorical excess?" I was simply
trying to say that many, many writers in our field act as if their
processes, structures, and designs will solve the problems of missing or
erroneous content... "beautiful," "brilliant," "efficient," etc. did,
indeed, refer to its superficial appearance. Sorry you didn't get that.

>I think we all agree that familiarity with a
>subject is a prerequisite to designing a
>technical publication.
>So maybe we can move on to discussing real issues
>in the new year.

I'm sorry you don't think that writers focusing on appearance and process
at the expense of complete, accurate content is a "real" issue. I think
it's a real problem in our field. Even though you say "we all agree" that
writers need to know their subject, I've contracted for over a dozen
companies where they focused all of their energy on graphic design,
presentation quality, search engines, and adhering carefully to
processes, and dismissed the notion that their material need to contain
more information, or be more accurate. In many cases, they told me that
once the processes were in place, better content would somehow follow,
although it never actually did.

Now that I've eliminated my "rhetorical excess" (thanks for that tip,
Michael), how have people dealt with this problem? I've actually been
told by some managers that the writers *couldn't* understand all of the
concepts necessary to document the product, because it was too technical,
so the level of writing I thought we needed wasn't possible unless the
engineers did it. Fortunately, I left shortly after that, but it would
have been better to fix the problem than leave.



stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com -- AOL and AOL Instant Messenger:MStockman

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