RE: This too is technical communication

Subject: RE: This too is technical communication
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 16:19:03 +0800

Lauren said:
> I don't understand why people keep confusing the process with the
> product. The process makes sense. Play dumb and get as much
> information as necessary. The product, a document, obviously, will
> not have all of that information, but it can be much more clear
> compared to a product that has limited information because the
> writer will have enough information to complete a cogent document.

I don't understand where playing dumb comes into it. I know some things
about the product and the users, I don't know others. I ask questions to
find out the things that I need to know but don't.

Before I interview an engineer or SME I do as much research as I can so
that I can ask intelligent questions and understand the answers. I want
the SMEs to feel that I respect their time so much that I won't waste it
by asking unnecessary questions.

> I am really confused as to why people keep saying that the
> documentation written from information gathered by somebody taking
> the stance of a clueless idiot will only apply to clueless idiots.
> The product is not the process. Of course, documentation will not
> be written for clueless idiots, but the stance of the writer in the
> information gathering process can be that of a clueless idiot. How
> did people get so lost and confuse the product with the process?

The SME has a lot of information. Some of it I already know, some I need
to know, some I don't need directly but may be useful as background. I
need to use my TW skills to pass the useful info on to the readers in a
clear and accessible format. No-one in this transaction is an idiot or a
forklift driver--not the SME, not me, not the users.

If the SME mentions RS485 connectors and it seems to be important, I'm
not shy about asking what an RS485 connector is. I'm not asking because
I'm playing dumb or because I feel dumb, I asking because it's something
I need to know so that I can do my job.

You say "the stance of the writer in the information gathering process
can be that of a clueless idiot" but I don't see where this would be
better than just taking the stance of a busy TW asking questions of a
busy SME.



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