Re: This too is technical communication

Subject: Re: This too is technical communication
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2007 10:45:31 -0700

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> The only circumstances where I would consider it acceptable for a writer to proceed
> to document something he or she "understands just about nothing" about without first
> understanding a lot more is when asked to document something that is out of the area/s
> originally recruited for and in a ridiculously short amount of time. If you *could* make
> yourself knowledgeable about the source material given reasonable time but can
> legitimately say to SMEs and management "you don't have time for me to come up to
> speed on this stuff technically, so we need to work differently from my usual methods,"
> then ok.
> Gene Kim-Eng

I'd like to mention that there is some middle ground in those projects
where the initial hurdles are daunting and might disqualify a writer.

I once worked out of a pool of IT tech writers in a telecom company. My
manager used to send me on the most gawd-awful assignments to projects
where I had no direct experience, and to make it worse, the projects
were frequently in trouble. I liked the management practice of arranging
a preliminary meeting for me with the project manager. I'd get a 5 -30
minutes briefing on the project, and could ask questions. I'd be sized
up and given access to the team shares, or rejected if I didn't show
aptitude and comprehension.

I can't remember any projects in IT that I couldn't grasp well enough to
qualify as tech writer, but also very few that I would have volunteered
for based on my goodness of fit. This reflects a recurring theme in my
experience as pool or contract tech writer --I parachute into a project,
land in a thicket of trees, hack my way to a safe position with a view
of the countryside, and then get to work.

There's a lesson for tech writing management in this--I don't mind being
pushed from the plane, but I can't learn to fly in the short time it
will take me to freefall and crater, so we'll all be happier if you give
me a parachute. That initial meeting with the project managers was the
parachute. I'd have been in the spin cycle for weeks on every project
without it.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Emily Berk" <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com>
> To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 7:38 AM
> Subject: RE: This too is technical communication
>> The question is when does the writer cry uncle and admit that she understands just about nothing of all the source materials she's
>> looked at and can't even imagine where to start.


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RE: This too is technical communication: From: Emily Berk
Re: This too is technical communication: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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