Re: Okay all you independent contractors: hit the bricks with THIS

Subject: Re: Okay all you independent contractors: hit the bricks with THIS
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 13:37:03 -0400

A Person (name deleted at said Person's request) wrote:

>When a company pays for a consultant or consulting reports, they are paying for
>expertise and insight. And insight does not always come delivered in a
>beautifully packaged, well-written, fully-singled sourced documentation.

When a consulting company has the temerity to package a study and hawk it to executives in hopes that it will inspire those executives to engage the consultants, the gambit might be more effective, methinks, if the study demonstrated clarity of thought, maintained some consistency (mathematical consistency, not typographic consistency) in the way it treated numbers, and presented a well reasoned case in a logical and compelling manner.

But maybe that's just me.

>I think the most obvious answer to your question is "because customers are not
>demanding it." Technical writers, like yourself, are probably not the intended
>audience. The intended audience is managers, executives, and such. And they
>don't always care about documentation quality.

They do care about wasting their time plowing through bombastic crap that contains no real information, though, doncha think?

>While it is certainly a big plus for consultancy spend some energy delivering
>good documentation, it is not always a motivating factor. Furthermore, since
>consultants must be experts in their relevant field, its probably difficult to
>locate writers who possess the necessary expertise to edit their material

That is true only if the material is woven of thread so fine that only the virtuous can see it. The material needs to be presented to people of ordinary intelligence (business executives, not engineers) who want to gain some knowledge from it. If the material is so abstruse that only the author understands it, what is the point of publishing it at all?

>There is also the economic factors. Most people of the non-tech writer
>persuasion expect experts to be difficult to understand.

And that's a good thing?

Simplicity implies
>commoditization, and commoditization implies mass production and lower per unit

No. Simplicity implies economy of language and clarity of understanding.

If something is very simple, executives assume its not worth as much,
>since it was mass produced. Thus, a book that is easy to read might make the
>ideas within it seem less valuable.

Judging by the books that make it to the top of the business bestseller lists, your hypothesis seems farfetched.

By making the book a more unreachable, it
>makes the information seem more *mysterious* and special.

That may be true if consultants are seen as priests rather than sources of usable information.

>When information becomes commoditized, consultants can't charge $425 for the
>information. That might seem dreadfully unfair. But if you're mortgage payments
>depended on making $425 per copy, it suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Price was not the question. Value was the question.

>Editors and tech writers ultimately commoditize information. As such, there is
>a perception, in some circles, of reduction in value when information is
>commoditized. Hence, in such industries tech writers may be seen as detrimental
>to business.

That's just too far out of left field to respond to.



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