Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview

Subject: Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 14:52:45 -0700

Andrew Plato wrote:
> Furthermore, I would argue that "pretty-ing" is not the most important
> skill for a writer to posses. While organizing information and making it
> easier to read is important, it is not the differentiation point for
> satisfactory documentation vs exceptional documentation. Exceptional
> documents go way beyond just being well organized. They are enjoyable to
> read, deliver useful information, and focus on tangible "themes". This is
> ultimately a content issue. Just organizing chunks does not make a
> document good. I've read plenty of well organized chunks of crap. Its only
> when the chunks flow together to deliver complete concept(s) that a
> satisfactory "well-organized" document becomes exceptional.

Haven't I heard this discussion somewhere before? :-)

I guess I don't see how anyone can make a division between all these
aspects of technical-writing. For me, they are all part of the
document's success. While everything that Andrew says is true, it is
equally true that design and organization determine whether a document
is enjoyable or useful. And while I'm not sure what Andrew means by
"themes," any English major can tell you that themes are a structural
element. And what does it mean if "the chunks flow together to deliver
complete concept(s)," if not that the document is well-organized?

But perhaps the apparent difference of opinion is really a matter of
different starting points. When I talk about good design or structure, I
mean that these elements enhance the content, and are based on a
thorough understanding of it. On the other hand, I suspect that Andrew
is reacting against structure imposed on a document based on a
methodology or process. At any rate, his descriptions of a good document
may be simply another perspective on my ideas of design or structure.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"I don't know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway -
Whatever it is, I'm against it."
- Groucho Marx in "Horsefeathers"


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