Stupendously learned user

Subject: Stupendously learned user
From: Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2007 16:13:44 -0500 (CDT)

The "This too" thread (which sounds like a good name for a soap opera about tech writers, since we've wandered into the wilds of television programming) --


Yes, as I was saying, the "This too" thread is currently reviewing the useful role of the clueless idiot. I find this role helpful sometimes, but in my current job, it's of no use at all. Every time I try to get the engineer to think in terms of explaining the significance of his context-free strings of jargon, every time I say something like "Imagine you're explaining this to a bright 10-year-old" or "to a bright college intern" or "to someone who's new to the job" -- he gives me the same response:

"No, no. Not 10-year-olds! No interns! Web services engineers are very knowledgeable, they're not beginners. The reader of this document won't have any trouble with this!"

i finally, finally got him to recognize that there was a time, once, long ago, when he himself did not know this stuff and needed to learn it. And, there was the very first day he ever had the job title of "Web Services Engineer" and had to rely on documents to help him by being understandable. THERE WAS A TIME when he did not know these things, yet was close enough to the technology to be starting a job that required him to master them. AT THAT TIME . . . he would have welcomed a document that explained things clearly.

(At a later date, I explained to the subordinate to whom the Web Services Engineer had delegated the matter, "This text is like throwing suitcases at somebody really fast. They have to catch them and put them in order before they're hit with another one." I was getting a bit desperate. Not sure if the image was really that helpful.)

Anyway, because the readers of this document are stupendously knowledgeable, they don't need anything explained, and they don't mind having suitcases thrown at them, and I should leave the document alone . . .

Is it Friday yet?

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