Re: How are technical writers perceived?

Subject: Re: How are technical writers perceived?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 11:34:12 -0800

Suzanne Townsend wrote:

In software projects particularly, because I come to the subject matter naive and without prejudice, I uncover many items other writers closer to the product/technology miss because of assumptions they make. )

On the other hand, if you come to the subject matter with a good idea of the technology, you know what to expect, and can see what's missing. To take a very simple example, suppose that you're documenting software that includes a utility that is basically a GUI of a commonly used command. If you know the command and its possible options, you'll notice if the GUI doesn't include them. By contrast, if you're a naive user, you may wish that the utility had a certain feature, but you wouldn't know if the idea could be implemented or not.

Another problem with being a naive user is that you can only be naive once. After that, you lose that special perspective. In the long term, what technical writers need is not naivety, but an ability to understand the end-user's position, to anticipate it, or to imaginatively project themselves into it.
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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