Re: Concepts (was Technical Writing Tests)

Subject: Re: Concepts (was Technical Writing Tests)
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 18:37:45 -0800 (PST)

Eric Dunn wrote...

> <<concept docs are much more difficult to write. They demand intimate
> and extensive knowledge of the content. And this factor, I believe, is the
> overwhelming reason documentation lacks conceptual information.>>
> While writer laziness or lack of detailed knowledge MAY be a contributing
> factor, simple economics and time probably plays a much greater role. All
> documentation is written on a budget and with deadlines. To write
> conceptual information about a product will require extensive time and
> And while both concepts and procedures are important, given a budget and/or
> limited time which of the two can you provide in the best quality and
> Also, which is the one that will be most complained about if it is missing by
> the intended audience?

I would agree with this concept in the sense that most writers lack the content
knowledge to effectively and efficient write conceptual information. Hence, the
lack of technical knowledge does extend deadlines and cost more. However,
writers that DO understand the content can produce both procedure and concept
in the same time a content-ignorant writer would produce merely procedure.

However, I think its a cop-out to say "deadlines are looming, we can't do good

A content-skilled writer can often produce material more efficiently because
he/she does not have to waste time with simple technology questions. Moreover,
such a person is better suited to sorting out the wheat from the chaff when it
comes to content. A technically savvy person knows what information is
relevant. A font fondler does not, and as such has to go through an extended
editing process where the engineers review and re-organize their content to
throw out irrelevant information and include relevant data.

As always, if you know the material you are infinitely in a better position to
not only meet your audience's needs, but also deliver a more comprehensive
package. And I would argue that the exclusion of concept information makes a
document LESS valuable.

Andrew Plato

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