Re: Article: "Living Documentation"

Subject: Re: Article: "Living Documentation"
From: "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 04:17:56 -0800 (PST)

Andrew wrote:
> Inaccuracies are 100% the direct fault of the author(s) and editors.

I really like this as a slogan. But frankly the belief that any
individual can be 100% responsible for the results of a complex system
just doesn't work for me. Accountable maybe, but not 100% responsible
in the sense of fault.

Look at what happens when there is a disaster in a truly critical
system like the space shuttle: NASA doesn't try to identify and pin the
fault on an individual who is 100% responsible. Instead, they look at
the whole system, the processes, and the culture that producted the
problem. That kind of investigation is very costly and frustrating, but
it results in an in-depth understanding that prevents the problem from
happening again.

But in the loosey-goosey world of business, it's more expedient for
managers at the top to point fingers at fall guys on the bottom. This
is probably the correct business choice, but let's at least recognize
it for what it is instead of blaming the peons.

> And 99.9% of the time its because those writers and editors do not
> understand the technology they are documenting.

I think I agree with the premise...

BUt if this is true. I just want to know... Who continues to hire and
retain all these non-understanding tech writers? Why is there such a
demand for them, and why are they rewarded with continued employment?

Surely if 99.9% of their employees did not understand their technology,
our steely-eyed executives would get rid of them?

If managers continue to hire these less-than-competent tech writers,
could there be a problem with the judgment and competence of our
management corps, at least on the subject of tech writing?

Mike O.

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