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

Subject: Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES! Attack Iraq-NO!
From: Paul DuBois <paul -at- kitebird -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 15:01:49 -0600

> > 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.

That's cheating. An expert who cannot communicate and needs help to
produce something other than unreadable gibberish isn't writing.

Or, to look at it another way:

Suppose an expert who's terrible at communicating ends up, with the
help of editors and copy-????-ers, producing something pretty good.
I take it you consider that acceptable.

Why then, is it impermissible for an excellent writer, with the help
of the SMEs who know the topic and can point out what needs to be
covered, to write on the topic?

In both situations, one person is great at their specialty and solicits
help for their weakness. In one case, the person with the knowledge
can't write and gets help with the writing. In the other case, the
person with the writing ability but lesser knowledge gets help with
the knowledge.

Ideally you have both, sure. But when you don't have both, you get help.

To argue against my own argument, I would say that it probably breaks down
to the extent that the knowledge required is really advanced. But I'd
say that there are many situations where you can get the information
necesssary to produce good documentation from the experts. I have in fact
been in this situation, and have ended up producing documentation that the
experts pronounced to be terrific and that they were really pleased with.
Apparently this has been Beth's experience as well. If such instances
are to be denied, I think it can be done only by declaring that these
experts actually are incompetent fools, which I am unwilling to do.


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Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES! Attack Iraq-NO!: From: Andrew Plato

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