Re: DFDs Are Great! Was Re: DFD BFD

Subject: Re: DFDs Are Great! Was Re: DFD BFD
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 20:00:51 -0500

Tony Markos made, as is his wont, a lot of absolutist and therefore provocative statements, to wit:

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.

No, Tony. Many, perhaps most, tech writers are involved in projects that have nothing to do with end-user tasks or how they interrelate. This is a diverse community you are taking part in, and your assumptions about it are, how can I say this nicely, um, truth-challenged.

Chuck Martin next comments:

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

Tony Markos:

The only thing I know about straw men is the guy in
the Wizard Of Oz movie. Someone else on this listserv
accused me of creating a straw man; what the heck is a
straw man?

A strawman (one word) is an argument that you create for the purpose of knocking it down, rather than a position that has actually been enunciated by anyone who is arguing with you. For example, if you were to say (note the hypothetical construction), "my opponent claims that the sky is green and the grass is blue" and then go on to prove that statement false, you would be using a strawman, because, in point of fact, no opponent ever claimed that the sky is green and grass is blue.

Actually, I used to use "goal" instead of "task" with
my above statement, but I changed it because because I
thought it made the statement more understandable to
many. (Goal is more of an abstract term; many people
on this listserv have real problems with abstraction.)

You seriously underestimate this list. I'd say you've disparaged your betters, to your great discredit.

Task, goal, function, process, or activity - they can
all refer the same thing. For example "Plan for
Retirement" can be, depending upon your preference, a
task, goal, process, function, or activity. This is
simply a matter of "different strokes for different
folks" - thats all.

That is absurd. Task and activity can be synonyms. But a goal is not a task; a process is not a task or a goal; and a function is not a task, a process, or a goal. The fact that in a list of goals you might encounter the same elliptical phrase, "plan for retirement," that you encounter in a list of tasks or a list of processes or a list of functions does not mean that they all represent the same thing.

It very well might be that the users don't need to
understand the underlying logic of the system. But, the TW has to have a comprehensive understanding of
the underlying logic of the system in order to
properly orgainze his/her thoughts, in order to give
the user whatever he/she needs in a user-friendly

That is, again, an overbroad generalization.

The people on this listserv who have told me that the
user care alot about "how" the system works are, if I
remember correctly, all anti-process types.

There are maybe three people who regularly contribute to this forum who have declared themselves anti-process. And three might actually be an exaggeration. Most people understand that process has its place but that a fetish about process interferes with producing deliverables.



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DFDs Are Great! Was Re: DFD BFD: From: Tony Markos

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