RE: Checking assumptions at the door (but NOT he vs she!)

Subject: RE: Checking assumptions at the door (but NOT he vs she!)
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 09:02:58 -0600

re: A former co-worker once decided she couldn't assume her readers knew X,
then decided they also needed remediation on pre-X just in case, and finally
decided she couldn't assume they even knew how to read. ... IMHO,
assumptions are not necessarily Bad Things.

Why, of course, but let's discuss the notion of *prerequisites* rather than
assumptions. Like when you get into umpty-ump 102 only when you've had 101.
There's an assumption in there, for sure, but ... . Seems to me that if
your software requires Windows 98, or something, then ability to run Windows
98 is a prerequisite and not to worry. Either the user read up on how to
use Windows 98 or someone helped him or her and it can be assumed these same
resources--ability to read or a helper--are available for understanding your
product's instructions.

Life itself has lots of prerequisites, yes? ... and in my (not-so) humble
opinion prerequisites are more than "not necessarily bad things," they're
required. Now, what is it we call sentences like "prerequisites are
required?" And, what about the assumption the user won't read the manual
anyway? Comedian Bob Newhart playing the psychologist once revisited his
mentor who by then had concluded psychology was a crock and the only thing
that mattered was golf ... something like that might apply when obsessing
about assumptions. Or maybe not ... I'm not obsesssing about it.


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