Re: encouraging learning by experimentation?

Subject: Re: encouraging learning by experimentation?
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 16:06:10 -0800 (PST)

Dana Worley wrote:
...but there are so many functions and so many things that can be done with the tool that it would be near impossible to document them all (and no one would read it anyway :) There's no way to overwrite your original data file so there's no harm in experimenting.

We've had customers come up with things that I would never have
even thought was possible using the tool. They figured it out
because they weren't afraid to experiment.

I've documented a couple of things that lent themselves to that sort of customer innovation. We, in fact, relied on it in some cases to expose ideas and topics that our inexperience in the _field_ left us blind to. Those programs were a far cry from the database management system I'm documenting now. No room for innovation when all you're doing is populating columns in a table.... :-(

But I'd like to get back to this historical transition from Documents-that-train to documents-that-describe. I've only been doing this stuff for a little over 3 years now, so I'm lacking the historical perspective that some of the more experienced on this list has. What are your opinions about this? Has such a general shift taken place, and what do think the causes of this shift are? Better research? Shorter development time? A shift in the background of technical writers? The fall of the Berlin wall? Or something else?

"And in the morning, I'm makin waffles." ~ Donkey
Sean Hower - tech writer

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