RE: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking?

Subject: RE: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking?
From: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- ca -dot- stilo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 10:38:42 -0400

> <<Why do some here... keep trying to convince us that good tech-writing
> craft can exist without *both* technical accuracy and clarity of
> expression? Is it because it is easier to pretend that good, honest
> craftsmanship is not nearly as important as guruhood?>>
> My take on this? It's because it's easier to paint the world in shades of
> black and white than it is to acknowledge and deal with the complexity of
> shades of grey. The best writers are both skilled writers and know their
> subject. Neither is inherently and inevitably more important than
> the other.

My take is this: People commonly confuse the importance of a skill for the
completion of a task with the importance of that skill as a selection
criteria. To be a successful technical writer, generally, you must have both
writing skills and technical skills. It makes no sense to say one is more
important than the other because they are both essential.

However, writing skills (as distinct from explaining skills) are common.
Technical skills specific to a particular job tend to be much less common.
Therefore, technical skills are a more important selection criteria for
choosing a candidate. You look first and foremost for a candidate with the
technical skills, then choose among those with the technical skills based on
their writing skills.

I suspect that those who say that technical skills are more important than
writing skills really mean to say that they are a more important selection
criteria, not that they are a more important job skill, and if so they are
usually right.

Explaining skills, unfortunately, are often neglected. In part, I suspect,
because it is hard to tell a good explanation from a bad explanation when it
comes to subject matter that you already understand.

Mark Baker
Senior Technical Writer
Stilo Corporation
1900 City Park Drive, Suite 504 , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1J 1A3
Phone: 613-745-4242, Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- ca -dot- stilo -dot- com

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Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking?: From: Hart, Geoff

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