RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')

Subject: RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 10:47:12 -0500

I've tried to keep my hands away from the keyboard in this debate, but I
just can't help myself any longer.

We are not merely "writers" we are, at our core, "communicators." Most often
we choose words as our medium for communicating. Communicators such as
ourselves are responsible for one thing:

* Getting knowledge out of one set of heads and into to another set of
heads.

Our ability to effectively communicate depends on several things:

* Obtain and understand input - this is where Andrew's challenge for us to
be technical enters in to the picture. We do need to be able to understand
the people who have the knowledge that we need to transfer. We need to be
able to get it and make sense of it before we can pass it along.

* Organize the input - we need to be able to put things together in a way
that will make sense to others. If we understand the information, but can't
organize it, we cannot communicate it well. We need to be able to develop
logical approaches, group like things together, and pick the best way to
present it to someone else. We do not present information in the same order
or fashion that we obtain it.

* Use our medium - once we understand and organize the information, we have
to be able to communicate it clearly, in our case, by using words. If we
cannot explain things well, or associate them via analogies to other things
people already understand, we'll have a very difficult time getting the
reader/user to understanding.

It takes ALL of these competencies to succeed as a writer. Mere technical
understanding is not enough. Mere writing ability is not enough. It takes
more.

And that is what we are paid to do - learn, organize, instruct. Simple, huh?
Just you try to do it!

My 2¢,

John




-----Original Message-----

> In that course, ironically, I discovered an instructor who, whatever she
may
have *known* about
> those languages, was almost completely incapable of *communicating* her
knowledge in any linear,
> coherent way. Her inability in that regard was extreme, but some variation
of
that inability has been
> more typical than otherwise of many of the SME's I have encountered in
various fields over the years,
> which is why I find myself definitely less than impressed at refusals to
see
our basic ability to
> communicate as our distinctive value. In my experience, many can write
code;
many fewer can write a
> coherent paragraph describing what the code amounts to or is used for.

Just because you didn't "get it" doesn't mean the instructor did not
communicate properly.

Communication, remember, involves two parties. There has to be somebody on
the
other end who is listening. The problem with most SMEs is they don't sugar
coat
information. It tends to fly out in raw, unabridged manner indicative of
their
technical prowess. This doesn't mean they are incapable of communication,
its
just that their form of communication does not suit all audiences. Most
engineers communicate very well with each other. I don't know
sign-language,
but two people "speaking" sign apparently can get a lot across. Just because
I
don't get it doesn't mean their communication ability is bad.

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