The End Of Technical Writing?

Subject: The End Of Technical Writing?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 20:23:10 -0400

Tony Markos reports: <<I was told by one of the mainstays on this listserv that the reason why there are so few End-User Task Analysis posts is because most of us TWs already have that issue licked...>>

<Offensive generalization alert>: The real problem is that surprisingly few people have ever heard of this task, those who have heard of it don't have the time to do it, and those who have the time to do it often do it poorly without knowing that this is the case. </alert>

A tad less nastily, I suspect that the people who most need to know of this and of how to do it right are least aware of this task, and thus, don't ask questions. Those who are doing it well don't need to ask. Spot the communication breakdown.

<<... and that the REAL issues we face are how to use the tools.>>

Rubbish. I'm in the camp that says the real problem is that not very many people write well, and that this is true to a surprising extent even within our profession--a conclusion I base upon the quality of most of the manuals in my possession. Tools are the things that help you write faster, but if you can't write, you're not a technical _writer_ no matter what you can make Frame and Webworks do. You are indeed what Tony called a "production specialist", but you're not a writer.

<<In other words, we mainly face production problems, not writing problems.>>

We certainly face production problems, but frankly, these pale into insignificance compared with the really important problem: having time to understand something well enough that we can write about it clearly.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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