Re: Tech writing saves journalism

Subject: Re: Tech writing saves journalism
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>, "'Fetzner, Bill'" <BFetzner -at- amsuper -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2006 12:55:57 -0700

I'm not quite sure exactly what to think about "journalistic integrity" in
technical writing, but as far as I and my team are concerned, while we
will not knowingly put something false in our documents or leave out
something whose absence we believe may result in user harm, legal
troubles or lost sales for the company, beyond that all bets are off
and we are a bunch of hack writers servicing the needs of our profit-
driven corporate superiors. Our documents are as "truthful" as we
can make them, but the only "balance" we strive for is the one at the
bottom of the accounting ledger; if our marketing or product managers
decide we're not going to support a potential application for our
products or explain to the customers how the products work or why
they work the way they do, it's just that much less work we need to do
to meet our schedule objectives and that much less cost to impact the
product and the company's profit margins. In the 30+ years I've spent
as an engineer, technical writer or publications manager, I've never
encountered an employer or client who wanted things done any other
way, and IMO anyone spending any time thinking about ways their
profession might change or save the world would be happier pursuing
some other line of work.

Gene Kim-Eng

----- Original Message ----- From: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>
To: "'Fetzner, Bill'" <BFetzner -at- amsuper -dot- com>; <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 12:34 PM
Subject: RE: Tech writing saves journalism

Bill Fetzner wrote, ". . . is there any evidence of that level of disregard
among professional technical writers?" I would say yes, with the caveat that
some of these technical writers may be using English as a second language.

For example, how many of you have looked at the instructions that accompany
a new cell phone or digital camera? If you have, have you noticed that some
functionality is poorly documented, some not documented at all, and other
functionality documented with WHAT to do and no explanation of WHY you
should do it that way? The same thing is true of software. The Help doesn't
and the documentation is feature oriented, rather than process oriented. In
other words, it tells you what a button or icon does, but does not explain
the process flow or provide process-based knowledge on solving the problem
that the software was designed to resolve or how the software is to be used
to complete the manual function that it was designed to replace.


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RE: Tech writing saves journalism: From: Dubin, David

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