RE: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO

Subject: RE: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO
From: Kevin Montgomery <robertm -at- qualcomm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 10:47:33 -0800

To an excellent technical writer, the SME is close to superfluous. A real TW can start with limited knowledge of a subject and deduce by power of mind all that is needed for presentation to lesser intellects. For instance, and conveniently related to Beth's paper on geology, I was recently asked by a client in the fossil fuels energy industry to prepare comments on geothermal power production for a conference of researchers in that field. I prepared the following brief piece without SME involvement and based only on my initially limited knowledge of tectonics and life sciences. It left the opposition speechless.

"Extensive tapping of geothermal heat will inevitably lead to a reduction in the temperature of the associated formations. The results would be awful. First, such a temperature drop would endanger thermophilic archea and other extremeophiles living in those areas. Geothermic environments are island communities, in that they are isolated from other geothermic environments. This leads to the evolution of unique life forms in the same way we see unique forms develop in other island communities, such as vernal pools, mountain tops, and, well, islands. Tapping a geothermal area could, therefore, lead to the extinction of one or more rare species. Clearly, before exploiting geothermal, we should perform a complete assessment and cataloging of subterranean life in all such areas.

"There are further dangers. Most geothermal fields lie along coastal tectonic subduction zones. By extensively tapping and cooling of those areas, you'll increase the relative density of the rock. Increased density will affect the balance of forces along the subduction zone, perhaps causing the geothermal areas to sink below the continental plates along with the cold, dense oceanic plates. Can you imagine the destruction caused by shifting the subduction boundary in a few miles along heavily populated coastlines? Whole cities ground to powder as they are dragged into the earth's mantle."

- Kevin

At 12:15 PM 2/27/2003 -0500, Karen E. Black wrote:

If it had to be written, wasn't it better that the writer spend time with the SMEs tapping their knowledge than for the SMEs to spend their time resentfully writing material that then had to be heavily edited, queried, and re-edited by the writer?
Not that all, or even most, SMEs resent writing, or do it badly, of course...
>I don't do tricks, but you can see a snippet from a much larger work at
> Use the live link halfway down
>the page. I spent about 2 weeks with some SMEs, and have had no
>geological training. This content was good enough to be credible with
>visiting PhDs in geoscience.


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RE: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO: From: Karen E. Black

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