Re: videotaping interviews with SMEs

Subject: Re: videotaping interviews with SMEs
From: "Lisa Bronson" <Lisa -dot- Bronson -at- ipaper -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2002 17:19:06 -0600

Hi Will,

I'll clarify a little more of why I have started to tape interviews. The
main reason I wanted to make the first tape was because I only had 2 days
to get all the information I wanted about the machine before they
disassembled it. The reason for using video rather than audio only for
first recorded project was because I wanted to try my hand at making a
training video. I haven't completed the video yet, but I found the tapes
extremely useful for writing the manual, particularly since I taped the
interview in August, but didn't write the manual until November (I
completed it two days before Thanksgiving).

This week, I got information for my next two manuals, and I audio taped
both engineer interviews. There are two huge benefits to recording the
interviews: 1) because I can concentrate on what the engineer is saying
rather than frantically writing notes, I am able to understand how the
machine works rather than just regurgitate the words the engineer tells
And 2) I can review the information at any time, greatly reducing the
number of follow-up questions I ask the engineer, saving time for him/her
and me. I'll be working on these two projects simultaneously, so the
will prove to be invaluable.

Yes, things changed on the machine between the time I taped the interview
and when the machine shipped. I received a few detailed emails from the
engineer telling me what changed, and had to do mockups of screens because
their text changed and I could no longer use still shots from the video.
But, I would have had to do those things regardless of how I did my
interview. The tape gave me a good starting point, but was not an end

If anyone has other questions about this, please feel free to contact me.

Hope this helps,
Lisa B.

Lisa Bronson
Associate Technical Writer
Evergreen Packaging Equipment
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always
seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered
with better soil and with a higher grade of manure." -- Ernest Hemingway

> TWhirlers,
> In her post of 12/06, Lisa Bronson mentioned that she loves "taping
> interviews with SME's and watching and/or listening to them over and over
> to get the information I need." I had not previously heard of TWs
> videotaping SMEs (although I have had valuable results doing so during
> formal TOI presentations at beta releases). Videotaping SMEs earlier in
> the project sounds like a good idea to me, especially if the trend
> continues that I am seeing toward poorly maintained engineering specs.
> However, I wonder if there might be some problems with early videotaping,
> such as resistance on the part of the SMEs (the same kind of resistance
> that engineers present to putting their half-formed ideas in their
> engineering specs...or maybe just shyness?) or on a more formal level
> the company (potential exposure of intellectual property?). Have any of
> you who have tried videotaping had negative feedback?

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