RE: craft vs. science vs. art

Subject: RE: craft vs. science vs. art
From: Phil Levy <PLevy -at- epion -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 11:51:53 -0400

You can't check your own work and find the errors. It's not human nature.
This is why documents written by one person from outline to index are so
riddled with defects--technically and from a usability standpoint. How long
before employers realize this? And by the way, if it were possible to
irradiate documents like hamburger, I would certainly be the first to cheer
it on. Better that than e coli contamination.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dick Margulis [mailto:margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net]
Sent: Monday, June 24, 2002 11:44 AM
To: TECHWR-L; Phil Levy
Subject: RE: craft vs. science vs. art

Phil Levy <PLevy -at- epion -dot- com> wrote:

>Just a minute, Dick. I think you agree with me: you say that the writer is
>given a template, which implies repeatability and replaceable parts.


I think I still disagree with you, even if you think I agree with you ;-) A
template implies, to me, some consistency of style and organization, not
repeatability and replaceable parts.

> And the
>whole concept of a template is a god one

You didn't think I was going to let that typo pass unnoticed did you ;-)

>as long as the template is very
>detailed. But regarding process: if the writer does the job all by him or
>herself there is no quality control until the end, when it's too late.

Both quality control and quality assurance are really in the hands of the
writer. If I am qualified to do the job (good at the craft), then I am more
qualified than anyone else to know what the quality of my work is. If I am
given to producing slipshod work (lousy at the craft), why on earth would
you not fire my butt? On the other hand, if you ask me to relinquish control
to a process, then you are treating me as a fungible resource, and I have no
incentive to take responsibility for the quality of my output. The work I
turn out is just so much hamburger meat to you, and you'll irradiate it at
the end of the process. Is that what you want?

>is what I mean by a process: more than one person working on the same

Sure, more than one person works on it. The SME provides information. The
writer produces a draft. Perhaps the SME and an editor and fact-checker (QA)
and a proofreader and a production specialist get into the act, too, before
the final version goes out the door. As I said, you've got to have some sort
of process; I'm not averse to that idea. I'm averse to the idea that the act
of writing is subject to process control.

As I said in the paragraph you replied to:

>>If you get past, "here's the due date; here's the
>>template; here's who to send it to for review," you
>>are micromanaging; and that can be counterproductive.


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