re: converting data to information

Subject: re: converting data to information
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 11:51:45

>>We convert data into information.
>>(corollary: we also sometimes convert a lack of data into information)

>Getting data into information is like stopping before the finish line.
>Data needs to be turned into knowledge to be of any use. Your corollary
>of lack of data into information seems a bit off. Data cannot be pulled
>out of the sky but must be "unearthed", "found", all those nice
>archeological terms. I am one of those nasty people who red pencil
>projects because their data was pulled from the sky. As long as you use
>your corollary, you can not withstand any rigors of anything.

I apparently missed inserting a smiley there... I phrased the corollary
that way to note, with tongue-in-cheek, that we sometimes have to start
with _nothing_ [1], and manage to produce information...this is
accomplished _through_ the process of investigation and uncovery you
describe. Also, part of our job includes an analysis of existing
documentation to determine whether there are pieces missing, which need to
be created. So, I think we aren't really in disagreement here,--I just
phrased it too ambiguously not to include a smiley.

[snip intro to WHO graphic]

> Data in context is information and information in context is knowledge.

While this sounds good, I have some argument with it. What about the
audience's part of communication? I don't believe "in context" accounts for
the receptive half of communication. We can submit information to the
audience "in context", but until the audience takes in that information
(and its context) and applies their own ability to connect what they are
perceiving to what they already know, it doesn't become knowledge.

>> We turn the radio static of information overload into (usually visual)
>> music for specified audiences.

> This analogy needs more work to be rigorous. As is, it is poetry.

??? I don't think I follow this statement. "Rigorous" how? And why poetry
instead of music?

>>We decipher and convey complex concepts into more easily comprehensible

>What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? You need a
>transition from your "data to info" model. This statement appears at
>first to be going from knowledge to data. Suggest you explore some of the
>literature on tech transfer. Tech transfer is, in part, the social
>acceptance of the technology, otherwise it is not sustainable. You have
>necessary but not sufficient components to your presentation.

Good lord, are you assuming all of my comments to be part of a unified
concept? I never intended to submit them as such (that's why I said they
were "a couple of takes on what we do", implying distinct entities). Each
statement might be useful in conveying a specific aspect of what we do to a
specific audience.[2] They are not automatically interchangable, or
mutually derivative.

Taken alone, my statement is perfectly relevant, as it does describe one of
the things we do, in a concise enough form to be heard by an audience who
doesn't know what a TW does, before their eyes glaze with disinterest.
(I've found you usually have about a three-sentence span before a person
asking "so what does a tech writer do?" starts to lose interest in the
answer and become impatient...this span _will_ be a bit longer for those
seeking more detail, such as potential new tech writers and good
recruiters. )

> Don't mean to be harsh, just happened to have my red pencil in hand.

No offense taken...I've been on more rigorous debate forums before, and I
find I sometimes have difficulty conveying the same points in my
"conversational" writing style that are clear in my more formal styles. I
try to minimize my use of the more formal styles on lists like this so I
don't sound like a grad student lecturing, but I can always learn something
useful from constructive critique of my "conversational" style.

Feedback is always welcome,
Shauna Iannone

[1] Sometimes there are no SMEs remaining with knowledge of older bits of
code, and if old docs are also unavailable, you are stuck with a "black
box" to figure out and document, hopefully in tandem with a programmer.
[2] I personally believe "what we do" encompasses too much to be easily
encapsulated within a single statement, especially if one includes the
occasional overlaps with QA, programming, teaching and project management.

Did you know you can get RoboHelp certified?
To learn how, visit Be sure to also check out
our special pricing offers and promotions for RoboHelp 2002.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: What is our art?
Next by Author: Re: He said...She said...He said...etc.
Previous by Thread: Re: converting data to information
Next by Thread: RE: converting data to information

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads