Subject: Re: DFD BFD
From: Chuck Martin <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 14:44:47 -0800

Reaching back a bit.....

Tony Markos wrote:

As I have posted several times: The major thing that a
TW is to do is come up with a detailed, comprehensive
understanding of the essential end-user tasks, and how
all those tasks interrelate - with special emphasis
placed on understanding the interrelationships.

Understanding end-user tasks is a straw man. What technical writers (and interaction designers) require is an understanding of users' goals.

From the Gospel according to Ed Yourdon: "ONLY by
following the flow of data [in task analysis] can we
come up with an understanding [and therefore be able
to explain to others] the underlying logic of a

Why do users have to understand the logic of a system. Users are people, and people are not logical. So then the question is: why hasn't the system been designed to accommodate the user, rather than forcing the user to accommodate to the system.

Users do *not* care about how systems work. Only engineers and others with a stake in producing systems care how they work. This is a fundamental concept lost by too many people producing systems, especially those preaching process.

If we don't put enough energy on process, you will not
produce good documents. Come on Andrew, you know it:
Almost always, the main problem is that not enough
effort has been placed on process. Thats the major
reason why so much documentation is so disjointed and

Putting energy into process means only that whatever is produced will have followed the process. As an ISO 9000 guru admitted way back when, you cna produce utter cr*p, but as long as you followed the process, it's ISO-certified cr*p.

Documentation--and products--are disorganized and disjointed because their design mimics the company's bureaucracy, not because its production did not follow process.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
The day may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our
friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day!
This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf



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