Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES! Attack Iraq-NO!

Subject: Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES! Attack Iraq-NO!
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 07:59:43 -0800 (PST)

"Paul DuBois" <paul -at- kitebird -dot- com> wrote in message news:188737 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-

> Beth's point (I believe) is that being an expert doesn't make you a
> good writer. I don't see anything in what you say to invalidate that.
> Nor do I see anything that draws any necessary link between expertise and
> being able to write.

An expert will always, however, be better equipped to write with authority. The
best communication skills in the universe cannot compensate for ignoranance.
For ignorance is the root of inaccuracy and incompleteness. An inaccurate or
incomplete document is a total failure. It does not matter how great a writer
the author is.

> I believe you are saying that knowledge helps you write more credibly.
> I agree that, for person X with a given amount of ability to write,
> increasing that persons's knowledge about a subject will help the
> person write about the subject better. But you're changing a different
> independent variable, saying the the person with more knowledge will
> write better than the person with less. That ain't necessarily so.
> I agree with Beth that experts on a topic are often poor ones to write
> about it.

Wrong. Experts are the only ones that can write with authority. They may need
the help of editors and copyrighters, but an expert will always be able to
produce more accurate and intelligent material.

Furthermore, editing and desktop publishing are not writing. Authoring material
from scratch and merely reorganizing somebody else's ideas are not synonymous.
Beth's argument wants us to believe that a person who merely moves other
people's text around is somehow more qualified to author documents then an
expert. And this is a patently flawed idea. One that is universally rejected by
any sane publisher or press. Nobody in their right mind will trust an author
who is ignorant about their topic.

And don't think you can just slip on by. I am an expert in information
security. I can read 10 pages of most security documents and tell you exactly
how little or much the writer knows about networking and security. And usually
the writers are so ignorant, that most IT people just toss the doc in the
garbage. It insults their intelligence.

> They aren't *necessarily* poor ones to write about it, but
> I echo Beth's sentiment (because I see it over and over) that people
> who know everything about a topic skip over the details necessary to
> effectively impart their knowledge to those who are less knowledgeable.

That is why we have editors. Editing is a perfectly acceptable and noble
pursuit. All smart people need the help of editors. But lets be clear. Editing
isn't writing.

> Another thing: The only person around here obsessing about fonts (and
> obsessing about fonts, and continuing to obsess about fonts) ... seems
> to be you.

Font-fondling is merely my humorous way to en-masse describe that loathesome
group of goobers who sit around all day worrying about the endless stream of
incidental work, while avoiding the big problems. These are people who are
saving endangered pinecones while the forest burns down around them.

You get the picture.

Andrew Plato

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