Knowledge of the subject

Subject: Knowledge of the subject
From: etienneg -at- interlog -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 09:41:03 US/Eastern

I think the whole discussion about what a technical communicator should know about the
subject being
communicated can be resumed with an old French saying:

"Ce qui ce conçoit bien s'exprime clairement" that could be translated in English with
"To clearly
explain something, you must understand it well"

How do you understand it well varies with the circumstances: availability, cost, time,
preference, and so on. Every method is fine: Formal training, self learning, books,
interview with
SME... only the result count.

Another way of expressing it is the similitude between the transfer of knowledge and the
transfer of
energy: there are allways losses. There are two strategies that must be combined to get
the user to
have the proper level of knowledge: minimize the losses and compensate them by starting
from a
higher level.

You minimize the losses by the quality of your writing. That include organization of the
wording, style, and so on.

You compensate for the losses by knowing more than the user need to know. I think that you
allow for the fact that you will allways underestimate the amount of loss and, therefore,
need to
know a lot more.

Personally, I have never regretted learning something and very often regretted not
something, so I never miss an available opportunity.


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