RE: Being an Expert

Subject: RE: Being an Expert
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 15:12:23 +0100


<Very good example John, and it points out a very important part of our
role, <I think. We sometimes, because of our lack of knowledge or because we
are not <as close, can pick out something that a whole room full of experts
sometimes <miss.

I'm middle of the road on this one, and therefore likely to get knocked down
at any minute.

I think that a GOOD place for a technical writer to start on a new project
is as a non-expert - someone who doesn't know a thing about the current
project, but who DOES have a background in the same technical area. (How
wide you want to stretch the area and how vague the background can be is up
to you.) This state of non-expertness does not last.

Assuming the technical writer is intelligent, curious, and motivated, the
writer will end up with a detailed knowledge of the project that will be
DIFFERENT from the detailed knowledge that the developers have. The
technical writer may not know the gritty details of each coding decision
(though I don't believe it actually matters if s/he does) but what they WILL
spot, that a developer might not, is something like the problem John
offered: that a list of figures, the same every time, is slightly different
in just one instance. Spotting that didn't require either an expert or a
non-expert: it required a writer with an eye for detail who was looking at
ALL the strings of numbers.

Which is - sort of - my middle-of-the-road point: we shouldn't be comparing
ourselves to developers in terms of expertise. We're not developers. We're
offering an entirely different kind of expertise - and that's the point.

Jane Carnall
"Praise then darkness and creation unfinished."
Apologies for the long additional sig: it is added automatically and outwith
my control. Home: hj -dot- carnall -at- virgin -dot- net


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References:
RE: Being an Expert: From: tom -dot- green -at- iwon -dot- com

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