Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22
From: Geoff Lane <geoff -at- gjctech -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 09:34:18 +0000

On Monday, February 23, 2009, Sarah Stegall wrote;

> What the blue blazes does this have to do with technical writing?

It has a lot to do with technical writing in that it's part of a
thread that IMO illustrates very well some of the pitfalls of written
communication. The thread started as a branch of "Qualifications for
an off shore writer?" so perhaps you missed the link because of the
subject change. However, you need to consider the thread holistically
else many posts taken out of context might seem off-topic.

As a technical writer my job is to learn and then disseminate what
I've learned in a form that suits my target audience. Part of that is
to know what my audience finds offensive, so that I can avoid
offending them.

Just in case you missed the previous posts, I'll summarise: This
branch started with Kevin McLaughlan's remark to the effect that a
degree only shows you're good at tests and where he quoted his
grandfather's saying that education doesn't make you smarter. IMO,
both he and his grandfather are wrong. Kevin because a degree also
demonstrates learning ability and a vocation degree (like MBA) shows
that the holder is trained to, and has achieved, a certain minimum
standard. Kevin's grandfather not only because an increased knowledge
of a subject you use in life imparts greater ability, which many would
consider being smarter, but also because of the point I made in the
post to which you responded. Next, Leonard C. Porrello responded by
parodying Kevin's quote - to which Kevin took offence. Now although
Leonard had (IMO) a valid point, it was lost because of the manner in
which he made it. From this, tech writers might learn to avoid
parodying their audience's heritage. From that point, others claimed
to have taken offence along the thread for various reasons, and from
each one can identify a pitfall.

That said, my post is also relevant (IMO) to technical writing because
the linked article suggests ways in which we can structure our
documents to help the reader get to grips with the subject matter more
easily. Repetition and transferability are key IMO. I now see the "cut
and paste, search and replace" technique to copy documentation of one
task to another, similar task as quality assurance rather than
laziness or efficiency. The repetition should help our readers link
the tasks and so use the same basic procedure in each case. In
contrast, I suspect a reader would find it more difficult to link the
tasks if they were documented differently.




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RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22: From: Michael West
Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22: From: Mike Starr
Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22: From: Geoff Lane
RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22: From: Sarah Stegall

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