Re: Scoping a DocumentationProject??

Subject: Re: Scoping a DocumentationProject??
From: Beth Agnew <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 2006 14:29:20 -0500

Yes, Tony, this is exactly what we've been trying to convey. In a community of techwriters we are very focused on our audience, our end user. We come at all communication problems with that end in mind: how does this help my reader use and enjoy this product? We always start a project by thinking about the audience. The engineering folks start by thinking about the system. Both communities are needed to make a product work for the customer. Emphasis on one point of view to the exclusion of the other creates problems for the user. Systems-only focus leaves a legacy of hard-to-understand documentation. Techwriters are user advocates, we think and speak user, not system. It is not surprising that the requirements engineering community does not do this. That is not their primary role.

In a great development company, you have systems analysts, business analysts, and techwriters working together to figure out how the *system *can help the *user *do their *business*. Our profession has long argued whether someone should be an engineer first before becoming a techwriter so that they can understand the system, or whether they should be a plain language/communication expert first so they can explain the system. That debate will *never *be resolved because both are viable and valuable ways of approaching documentation. Each user community, each product, has its own needs and challenges. Techwriters tackle them all. That's why we are such a diverse group. There's a place in the profession for everyone who wants to be here, no matter what their background, because ultimately it's all about helping the user have a better experience with the product, process, policy, or service.


Tony Markos wrote:

I am aware of what the requirements engineering community does, but,
not how the Tech Writer community does it. The two
communities sometimes do the same basic things in
radically different fashion.
Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON 416.491.5050 x3133


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Re: Scoping a DocumentationProject??: From: Tony Markos

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