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Jim Shaeffer quoted Howard Gardner and asked, following up on Howard's post
(I assume--I'm coming in late here, I think):
> Are questions and comments about a "value core" applicable to
> technical writing? If so, how?
I think they are quite applicable to any profession. In any event, to me the
value core of technical writing (and perhaps not coincidentally, of my
previous professions) has been to to "make sure that people get . . .
educated." Tech writing can have the added benefit of designing "excellent
and beautiful products," but I'll readily admit that doesn't always happen.
Back to the education side of it, in one of James Herriot's stories, he
writes about trying to diagnose a calf with a very odd ailment. (If you
haven't read any James Herriot, try it some time. Not only is he funny, he's
an excellent science writer. His descriptions of medical conditions and
treatments are incredibly clear.) James Herriot is reading through book
after book, trying to diagnose the calf. Finally, he comes across a pamphlet
from his university days. It describes exactly the symptoms of this calf,
and how to treat the illness. He says something along the lines of "I felt
as if the writer of the pamphlet were right there, hand on my shoulder,
pointing to the answer in the pamphlet saying 'Here's the answer you've been
I like to think that somewhere out there, somebody reads a document I wrote
and says the same thing: "here's the answer I was looking for." We writers
don't get to see that man or woman, but once in a while, if we're lucky, we
get some nice feedback from customers about the "good documentation" we
At any rate, that's part of my "value core" for this profession.
FarPoint Technologies, Inc.
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