Thinking patterns (sequential vs. other instructions)?

Subject: Thinking patterns (sequential vs. other instructions)?
From: "John Fleming" <johnf -at- ecn -dot- ab -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 18:37:09 -0600

I see an interesting juxtaposition of ideas here.

On the one hand, "David B. Stewart" <dbstewart -at- dswrite -dot- com> writes -

Consider two mechanics. Each is at the top in his field for the
same number
of years. Both are skilled, well trained, and certified. Now
focus on
their expertise. One builds and repairs automobiles. The other
builds and
repairs jet aircraft engines. The auto mechanic will struggle and
fail when asked to repair a jet engine. Is he less a mechanic?
No. Is he
less skilled because he struggled or failed? No. Skills of each
strong, yet different. Misapplication of the appropriate skill is
management problem.

On the other hand, "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA> writes -

I think it's a question of experience, not inherent skills. Most
of what
techwhirlers document is sequential because many of the tasks our
perform are sequential at their bottom level, and it's natural for
us to be
most skillful at doing something you do frequently. But in some
ways, we're
putting on blinders when we do this, because in the real world,
many tasks
are not purely sequential; there are branches, decision points,
ways to accomplish something, options within any given approach,
and so on.
Since we do this less often, we're less good at doing it.
Moreover, this
borders on instructional design, which is another area of
expertise that
many of us never study.

May I suggest that, it is a combination. A highly experience writer
who never writes more than simply sequential instructions will never
develop the skill necessary to develop highly convoluted instructions.
A less experienced writer who writes mostly highly convoluted
instructions will develop that skill.


John Fleming
Technical Writer
Edmonton, Alberta
email: johnf -at- ecn -dot- ab -dot- ca


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