Re: "They don't need no stinkin' documentation..."

Subject: Re: "They don't need no stinkin' documentation..."
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 7:54:25

Am I the only one noticing that y'all are not disagreeing?

Andrew Plato says:
'Content takes priority to design (function before form)'

Bruce Byfield says:
'Yes, content takes priority; yet design is important, as it will
affect audience response.'

Andrew Plato later reiterates:
'Yes, design is important, but content takes priority.'

You're actually arguing non-conflicting points: Andrew is arguing that
content takes priority [point 1], and Bruce is arguing that design is
important [point 2]. These points are not mutually exclusive, as you both
have agreed in your posts.

The heat that sets fire to the strawman seems to be that Point 1 proponents
infer that Point 2 proponents are claiming content does not take priority,
while Point 2 proponents infer that Point 1 proponents are claiming design
is unimportant. In both cases, the inference is wrong, and a result of
faulty logic.

So, does the continuation of the banter imply that it is actually a
thinly-disguised plot for imposing an exercise program on those needing to
tone their argumentation muscles? (who can be most easily identified by the
abusive tones their arguments inevitably display) :)

...actually, that brings up a question I have been curious about: while it
is established (at least academically) that expository writing and
argumentative writing are different animals, I'm curious whether you have
found that training in the subjects of logic, propaganda and debate have
improved the quality of your technical writing. If so, how? If not, why?

In my case, I believe it has helped. By playing "devil's advocate" with my
docs, and arguing with the proof of function they are supposed to provide
(these are primarily design docs and testing docs, not user docs), I am
able to identify gaps faster (I am a lone tech writer with no established
review process in my department, so I must catch everything myself). I have
found the skills even more useful in dealing with initially recalcitrant

What have you found?

Shauna Iannone

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