Re: He said...She said...He said...etc.

Subject: Re: He said...She said...He said...etc.
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 9:34:16

Melody said:
>> If you take written material produced by nonwriters and rewrite
>> that material so that it is intelligible, you are not an editor
>> -- you are a writer.

Andrew said:
> I disagree. You're still just cleaning up somebody else's work.
> Writing must involve creating something new that did not exist before.
> You could probably argue that if you took very raw information
> (like source code) and then molded it into a more narrative document,
> that would qualify as writing since you're producing something
> totally new from the raw material.

I think this is where you two are arguing with each other from the same
side of a point, using different definitions for the same terms, and
different terms for the same concepts. (To clarify: I'm just talking about
the "writing vs. editing" point, not the "how much should a writer learn
about what they are writing about" point)

To illustrate this, let's try an example.

Andrew (and Melody), if you received the following input from an SME, and
had to transform it into the section of text below it, would you consider
that writing or editing?
--- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Submitted input (this is the only _written_ material that was received from
the SME):
1. Description of Request - Provide feedback from the P_WHATEVER
procedures within the application and the Oracle database that can be used
as a confirmation number as well as an error code.
2. Detailed Requirements - Create the P_WHATEVER procedure within the
Oracle database to:
a) Retrieve the item number from the ITEMID parameter.
b) Locate from within the DOINGSTUFF table the ItemID being updated.
c) If the ItemID is located and it is active, deactivate it and store
the comment.
d) Provide a return value of 0 (zero) if the ItemID was updated
e) Provide a return value of 1 (one) if the ItemID provided is an
invalid ItemID
f) Provide a return value of 2 (two) if the ItemID provided was
already previously updated
g) Provide a return value of 3 (three) if there was an error
processing the update request and the user should attempt the update
request once again
--- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Produced output:
The stored procedure P_WHATEVER is called by the application whenever
the user enters an item number and comment and selects "Whatever" from the
Doing Stuff screen of the application. Once called, the procedure attempts
to modify the record for the item number in the Oracle database, and then
returns a numeric value to the application to indicate whether or not the
information was successfully modified. The specific value returned
indicates either the success of the function, or the specific error
encountered upon attempting to update the record (see table 3.2 below).

Table 3.2 - return values for P_WHATEVER
Value Meaning
0 The ItemID was updated successfully.
1 The ItemID provided is an invalid ItemID.
2 The ItemID provided was already previously
3 There was an error processing the update
request, and the user should resubmit the
--- --- --- --- --- --- ---

I personally suspect the difference in your two perspectives hinges on the
material received from the Subject Matter Experts, combined with the focus
of the output. If all you receive is a tech spec riddled with gaps from
assumed knowledge, and you need to produce user documentation, what you
receive from the SME may bear little resemblance to the requested output.
My personal opinion is that this situation would count as "writing", not
"editing". What is not clear to all listeners of this discussion is whether
_Andrew_ would consider this to be "writing" or "editing".

What might be a more illuminating/useful question might be _why_ does
Andrew consider one level of transformation editing, and another
writing...where does the borderline lie for him?

Not to sound callous, but *what* Andrew's opinion is has no impact on my
work, and so is of little import to me. *Why* he holds that opinion,
however, may bear relevance to (or have an impact upon) how I work , and so
is of interest to me. (Sorry, Ducks, you may be a sweetheart in person, but
I'm only interested in your mind...*grin*)

Just another 2 cents,
Shauna Iannone

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